Hand was confirmed as Cleveland's closer by manager Terry Francona on Saturday, Nick Camino of Newsradio WTAM 1100 reports. The announcement is hardly a surprise, as Hand is clearly the best reliever in Francona's bullpen. The Indians haven't been afraid to use their best reliever earlier in the game in the past few years, thanks to Andrew Miller's flexibility, but the team still had a dedicated closer in Cody Allen during that time. With both of those pitchers now gone, Hand will be called on to fill Allen's role, not Miller's.
Hand struck out the side in a perfect ninth inning against the Royals on Wednesday to secure his 32nd save of the season. It was a nice bounce-back outing from Hand after he allowed a run in a non-save situation Tuesday. The 28-year-old southpaw has now converted all eight of his save chances for the Indians, posting a shiny 1.86 ERA with 28 strikeouts across 19.1 innings with Cleveland in the process. Hand remains locked in as the top option for saves in Cleveland at the moment, with Cody Allen working the eighth inning Wednesday.
Hand picked up his 31st save of the season Friday against the Rays, striking out one across a perfect ninth inning. Hand needed just 10 pitches (seven strikes) to secure his second save in as many days. The left-hander has been lights out since joining the Indians from the Padres via trade July 19, converting all six of his save chances while compiling a 1.24 ERA and 24:7 K:BB across 17.2 innings for Cleveland.
Hand struck out two in a perfect ninth inning Tuesday in Boston en route to his fifth save with the Indians (29th of the season). Cody Allen picked up the save while allowing a run Monday, but he threw 28 pitches in that appearance. While Hand also pitched Monday, he only threw nine pitches, and with the lefty-hitting Andrew Benintendi leading off the ninth inning Tuesday, it made sense for the Indians to turn to the fresher southpaw over Allen. It seems clear that Allen and Hand will continue to get save opportunities, at least in the short term. With Hand pitching on back-to-back days, Allen would likely get the ball if a save situation arises Wednesday.
Hand gave up one hit and struck out one over two-thirds of an inning Monday against the Red Sox. He picked up his fifth hold of the season. Hand came in for matchup purposes after Adam Cimber struck out Ian Kinsler for the first out of the eighth inning. Cody Allen was clearly being reserved for the save situation, with the Indians taking a 5-3 lead to the ninth inning. Allen gave up one run, but secured his 25th save. Hand should still get the occassional save opportunity when matchups and usage patterns call for it, but Allen is the best bet for saves in Cleveland's bullpen.