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The Underappreciated Dominance of Emmanuel Clase

With the All-Star rosters being announced on the 4th of July, there were some noticeable snubs in each league, specifically when it comes to pitching. One of the biggest misses I noticed on the ballot was the absence of Cleveland Indians closer Emmanuel Clase. Clase has had an unbelievable season in his first official year in Cleveland, and it feels as if it’s barely talked about.

Going into the last week before the All-Star break, Clase leads AL relievers in ERA at 1.01 and is 4th in FIP at 2.01 in 35.2 innings of work. In comparison, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who made the All-Star roster, has a 4.71 ERA and a 4.20 FIP. While Chapman started the season dominant and has fallen off a cliff as of recently, Clase has been consistent all year. He started the year with 15 straight scoreless appearances, hasn’t seen his ERA go north of 1.26, and hasn’t given up a home run all year. The only knock on Clase’s game would be his K/9 and BB/9. While his K/9 of 10.09 isn’t bad at all, it’s not really near an elite level, and his BB/9 of 3.28 isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s usually what gets him in jams leading to runs and blown saves.

Acquired from the Rangers in the 2019 offseason, Clase was the centerpiece in the return for Cleveland. Clase has been the only one to pan out from this trade, as Corey Kluber only pitched one inning for the Rangers after tearing a muscle in his right shoulder in his first game. Delino DeShields also came over to Cleveland in the trade but didn’t provide much production, posting a 72 wRC+ in 27 games with the Indians. Even then, Clase was overlooked in this trade, even though he put up a solid 2.31 ERA in 21 games with the Rangers in 2019.

An 80-game PED suspension caused him to miss out on the entire 2020 season, but that velocity did not dip at all when he came back. Clase is only a tick behind Jordan Hicks of the Cardinals for the highest average speed on the fastball at 100.4 MPH. However he rarely ever throws the fastball (2.9% of the time) as he primarily only throws his cutter and his slider. Both pitches have insane movement on them with high velocity, averaging 100 MPH on the cutter and 91.1 MPH on the slider.

Clase’s primary pitch, the 100 MPH cutter
Clase’s 92 MPH slider

While there’s still a chance that Clase could make the All-Star game by replacing someone already on the roster, it’s still a shame he didn’t make it the first time through. He and James Karinchak have been arguably the best bullpen duo in the league this year. Hopefully, we can see him pitch in Denver and be recognized as one of the more elite relievers in the game right now.

Ryan Driscoll

Arizona State 2025. Born and raised in St. Louis.

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