2015 IBI Preview Capsules: RHP Cody Allen
Allen is locked in as the closer for 2015, though there are some areas of concern
Welcome to the 2015 IBI preview capsules! In order to prepare for the upcoming season, IBI will have a preview capsule running for every player on the 40-man roster and selected non-roster invites. To mix things up, we will be running these roughly in alphabetical order.
Previously-run previews can be found here:
Next up is right-handed reliever Cody Allen.
Cody Allen, RHP
Throws: Right -- Bats: Right -- Entering his age-26 season -- Contract: Pre-arbitration player (under team control through 2018, on track for arbitration eligibility in 2016)
2014 Overview: Allen did not start the season as Cleveland’s closer, but he ended the year with the role and should hold it for the foreseeable future. The right-hander followed up his breakout 2013 season with a very similar one in 2014 and currently ranks among the top 30 relievers in all of baseball. Allen may not be Aroldis Chapman or Wade Davis, but he will do just fine at the back of a major league bullpen.
Versus Right-handers: Though Allen established himself as a big league closer in 2014, his performance against right-handed batters was actually not that great. Allen posted roughly a strikeout per inning against righties in 2014, but he also put a lot of runners on base with his 4.6 BB/9. Though Allen has been better against right-handers in his career than in 2014, the right-hander is still more average against same-handed batters as a whole than great. Allen is not helpless against right-handers, but this is where he will need to see some improvement in order to move from a top 30 reliever to one of the marquee ones in all of baseball.
Versus Left-handers: Left-handers are where Allen has really made his mark so far in his career, Even though he throws with his right hand, left-handed batters struggled mightily, with Allen looking like the Dodgers’ elite closer Kenley Jansen against them. Allen’s strikeouts jump up against left-handers while his walks plummet, leading to a wicked reverse platoon split for the right-hander. These results are still only over 85.2 innings, however, and could end up being more fluky than true. For now, however, Allen has found a way to not only avoid being harmed by the platoon advantage, but in fact thrive on it.
Pitch Mix: Blessed with a fastball that averages a little over 95 miles per hour, Allen has thrown it over two-thirds of the time in his major league career. The right-hander started throwing fewer fastballs lately, however, going from 76 to 72 to 61 percent over the last three years. That decrease has been paired with an increase in breaking pitches for Allen, though what that breaking pitch is classified as has changed. PITCHf/x has called Allen’s breaking pitch a slider in 2012, a curveball in 2013, and a knuckle curve in 2014, mostly representative of Allen’s breaking ball moving more down than side-to-side over time. Regardless of what it is called, Allen’s breaking pitch was quite good last year and is a big reason the right-hander found success in the majors.
Fantasy Impact: Though closers tend to have a very short shelf life, it always helps in fantasy when a team does not have a clear alternative on the roster. Cleveland’s bullpen is pretty deep, but there is not someone primed to take the closer’s role from Allen barring extreme struggles or injury. Bryan Shaw and Scott Atchison are good, but are best served as setup men/middle relievers, while Nick Hagadone has closer’s stuff, but left-handers are infrequently made closers. There are some reasons for concern with Allen going forward -- in addition to the always-present concern surrounding all relievers -- but Allen is a solid closer to target in the middle-to-late rounds with a fairly strong hold on the job.
Summary: Allen’s issues getting right-handers out are definitely a concern. So is his increasing reliance on breaking balls. Over 37 percent of the pitches the right-hander threw in 2014 were of the breaking variety, something that is correlated with injuries in coming years. Allen could easily stay healthy and overcome his problems with righties, but there are more worries surrounding the right-hander than a normal reliever. Things could all work out, but seeing Allen take a step back or deal with injuries in 2015 is not out of the realm of possibility.
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