On Wednesday, Cleveland recalled Jeanmar Gomez from Triple-A Columbus and placed the right-hander in the bullpen. Gomez has been working as a starter all season, but the Indians' current need is as many long-relief options as possible.
"The way we've used the bullpen the last couple of nights," Indians manager Manny Acta explained, "we're a little short back there. It's late in the season. We don't want to push anybody and you don't know how things are going to turn out."
The 24-year-old Gomez opened the year as the Indians' fourth starter, but was demoted to Triple-A after going 4-7 with a 5.18 ERA through June 23. At Columbus, he went 6-5 with a 4.41 ERA across 11 starts, during which he struck out 54 and walked 17 in 69 1/3 innings.
To clear room on the active roster for Gomez, the Indians designated utility man Shelley Duncan for assignment.
During Tuesday's 7-0 loss to the A's, Indians starter Zach McAllister was forced from the game after 4 1/3 innings due to an escalating pitch count. In Monday's 3-0 defeat against Oakland, Cleveland righty Roberto Hernandez exited after 2 1/3 innings after spraining his right ankle.
Hernandez threw 35 pitches off a mound on Wednesday with no problems and is scheduled to make his next start on Saturday against the Rangers.
Dating back to July 27, when Cleveland began this 5-25 stretch to forget, the team's rotation had logged 154 innings. That is the fewest innings in the American League over that span and ranks 29th overall in baseball during that period.
Under the circumstances, Gomez is better served in the bullpen for the time being. Cleveland was discussing a shift to a six-man rotation in September, but Acta said that plan has been shelved for now.
"We brought up Gomez to pitch out of the 'pen if necessary," Acta reiterated. "We're not anticipating ... going into that six-man rotation. It's still up in the air. We're not leaning that way, but if there's an opportunity later on to get him a start or two, we might do it."