CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona has leaned on Cody Allen more than any other reliever this season, calling on the rookie for late innings and high-pressure situations. Francona knows he needs to avoid turning to the hard-throwing right-hander too often.
When Allen surrendered a two-run home run to Royals left fielder Alex Gordon in the eighth inning on Monday night, Francona did not feel the reliever deserved the damage to his pitching line.
"I probably should've taken the earned runs last night," Francona admitted on Tuesday. "I shouldn't have pitched him."
The Indians held on for a 4-3 win over the Royals, but that did not alter Francona's feelings about Allen's recent workload. Heading into Tuesday, when Allen was not available out of the bullpen, the right-hander led American League rookies with 67 appearances and led Cleveland's relievers in games pitched and innings (63) logged.
On the season, the 24-year-old Allen has a 2.71 ERA with 78 strikeouts, but he has posted a 9.00 ERA and a 1.193 opponents' OPS over his last seven games. In Monday's appearance, Allen averaged 97.1 mph on his fastball, but Francona said velocity has not been the problem.
"It's been location," Francona said. "He's pitched a lot lately. He's reaching back to get his velocity, and he's able to do it, but I think it's costing him location."
Allen will continue to serve as a key cog within the Tribe's bullpen, but Francona said he needs to be more mindful of the young pitcher's usage.
"I think I made a mistake last night," Francona said. "He's been so valuable and we've gone to him in leverage situations to put out fires. I don't care whether he's a veteran or young kid, he's done a great job. We will continue to do that. I just need to not throw him too much."