Wittgren allowed a run on one hit and struck out one over one inning to earn a hold in Sunday's 5-2 win over the Tigers. Wittgren worked the seventh inning and allowed a solo shot to Wilson Ramos that cut Cleveland's lead to 3-2. The 29-year-old Wittgren hasn't been busy yet this season, working 2.2 innings over three appearances. He's allowed four runs on four hits and two walks. The right-hander is part of Cleveland's closer committee, but he's been less effective on the mound than either of Emmanuel Clase or James Karinchak.
Wittgren picked up the save Wednesday against the Royals after pitching a scoreless ninth inning. He didn't record a strikeout nor issue a walk. Wittgren is part of a three-man closer committee alongside James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase, but he got the nod for the save opportunity here and didn't disappoint -- he retired Hunter Dozier, Kyle Isbel and Michael Taylor on eight pitches. This was a big bounceback performance for the 29-year-old right-hander, who opened the year allowing three runs across two-thirds of an inning against the Tigers on April 3.
Cleveland will use a committee of James Karinchak, Emmanuel Clase and Wittgren for save chances this season, manager Terry Francona told MLB.com. Wittgren had a strong spring with a 1.08 ERA and nine strikeouts in 8.1 innings with one walk. It sounds like the closer situation could be flux early in the season, but Wittgren could get a larger share of save chances if he continues his spring performance.
Wittgren has impressed manager Terry Francona this spring and could be a candidate to close games to start the season, Tom Withers of the Associated Press reports. James Karinchak is being drafted as if he's Cleveland's most likely closer, and while he could certainly fill the role, there hasn't been much of an indication from the team that he's the clear favorite. Karinchak struck out an incredible 48.6 percent of batters last season but also walked 14.7 percent, and he's been no different this spring, striking out 18 batters in eight innings while walking six. Wittgren, by contrast, offers a far less extreme package. Both his 28.6 percent strikeout rate and 6.1 percent walk rate last season were strong but not particularly noteworthy, and his 6:1 K:BB in six scoreless innings this spring is similarly solid. If Francona prefers stability over dominance in the ninth inning, it could well be Wittgren who earns the majority of the team's save opportunities this year.
Wittgren has allowed two hits and no walks while striking out one over three scoreless innings to begin spring training. Wittgren served as one of Cleveland's top setup men in 2020 and has been effective across three relief outings this spring. The right-hander will likely serve in a setup role once again with James Karinchak the favorite to begin the season as the team's closer, but Wittgren could contend for save chances if Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase struggle early in the year, Ben Axelrod of WKYC reports.
|@ GREAT AMERICAN BALL PARK||0||0||0||0||0|