Allen's rapid ascent a surprise even to himself
The rise to the big leagues is a tough, tumultuous trail at times, but Cleveland Indians’ relief pitcher Cody Allen was fortunate enough to fast-forward the process.
Allen, a 23-year-old right-hander, started the 2012 season in high-A Carolina. After just two games with the MudCats, where he surrendered just one hit and struck out eight, Allen was promoted to AA-Akron for five games. There, he allowed just two hits and one run while he struck out 10 hitters. From there, he made the move to AAA-Columbus at the end of April, where he played 24 games with the Clippers and posted a 2.27 ERA and fanned 35.
On July 20, Allen was called up to Cleveland. Many fans felt the promotion was an obvious choice for the organization, regardless of Allen’s rapid rise through the system. Allen, however, was not expecting it.
“It’s been crazy,” he said. “I didn’t expect to do this, this year. Not even close.”
Now that Allen has made his mark at the big league level, he’s just trying to fill the role he’s been given. “I’m just trying to roll with it, just do what I can, try not to do too much, just trying to settle in and do my job.”
Allen made his debut on the same evening he was called up against the Baltimore Orioles. Every player is anxious during his debut, but Allen’s approach was simple: “Just try to throw strikes and not screw up too bad.”
So far, Allen has fulfilled the expectations. Through four relief appearances with the Indians, Allen has surrendered just one hit and four walks with four strikeouts. Those appearances included a strong outing against Detroit, during which he struck out Miguel Cabrera.
Facing a player like Cabrera rightfully gives jitters to any rookie pitcher, but Allen is learning to corral his nerves when he faces big league names.
“You just try to calm yourself down,” he said. “You’ve still got to make good pitches. Good pitches get good hitters out. Not all the time, but the percentages are in your favor. A good hitter is going to get a hit three out of ten times. You know, I’ll take those odds. Make a good pitch and kind of let the chips fall in the bag.”
The chips seem to be lined up for Allen, and he feels his success so far can be accredited to his low profile and new arm.
“I’d probably say the thing that’s working best for me right now is just knowing that teams haven’t seen me yet, so it's the first time I’m pitching against a lot of these teams," Allen said. "It’s to my advantage because they don’t have as much on me as I may have on them.”
Now, Allen just wants to continue to fulfill his role for the ballclub. He doesn’t want to make any changes or fix things that aren’t broken.
“I’m just trying to stick with what’s worked,” he noted. “I’m not trying to change anything. I’m just trying to get better at what I’ve been doing – and that’s making more consistent pitches, getting ahead of guys, holding runners, fielding my position, just all the things you have to do to help the team win.”
Allen feels the team has a chance at winning, and all he wants is to help them do so. His overall goal for the remainder of the season is the same as the team’s – get to the postseason.
“I’m just trying to stay here and contribute,” he said. “We’re trying to make a playoff push here and just trying to contribute to the overall goal, which is playing in October.”
Allen’s ascent to the big house was quick, and the clock on the Indians’ season is ticking even quicker as the calendar turns to August. With October fast-approaching, Allen hopes to stick around and help the Indians reach the playoffs. He may have reached the big leagues in four months, but the next two months may mean the most.
Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.