Allen making a battle of Cleveland’s impending rotation crunch

2:26 AM UTC

CLEVELAND — It’s hard to know what Logan Allen‘s future holds for the rest of this season, but as long as he’s in the Majors, he’s making his presence known.

Allen looked solid yet again on Tuesday night in Cleveland’s 4-2 loss to the White Sox at Progressive Field. He retired the first 11 batters he faced before running into a little bit of trouble in the seventh. But he still finished the night with his first quality outing since his Major League debut, tossing six-plus frames with four runs (three earned), one walk and four strikeouts.

“He continues to show not just the poise, but Major League pitches,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “He controlled the running, the game doesn’t speed up very much. There’s a lot of good things besides just the pitching.”

It was a decent outing regardless of the situation, but it was more impressive to see Allen face the same offense he did in his last outing and figure out a way to adjust to the hitters in order to remain successful.

Last time out, he gave up one run on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings against Dylan Cease in Chicago. It was the first time the White Sox lineup saw the rookie left-hander and his approach from last week was still fresh in their minds. But the young starter was able to set a strong game plan coming into Tuesday in order to make sure he stayed one step ahead.

“That fastball gets on guys. It’s a good fastball,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “The velocity does that fastball no justice. He mixed well with his slider, with his changeup, pitches in well to righties, has a tough angle. He’s a really good pitcher. A good one. There will be some battles with him down the road for sure.”

“I think it’s definitely a big test to see a lineup for a second game,” Allen said, “Just seeing the way the guys make adjustments to you and the way you make adjustments to them.”

Allen had thrown just 65 pitches through six innings. As effective as he’s been this season, he’s struggled with his pitch count, considering after his debut, he went his next four starts without completing the sixth inning and throwing at least 90 pitches (and more than 100 pitches in two of those starts). This was the efficiency he had been looking for.

Francona was hoping to get Allen through the bottom of Chicago’s order in the seventh. But when all five batters he faced reached base, capped by a two-run double by No. 9 hitter Romy Gonz?lez, he turned to his bullpen.

“[Gavin] Sheets [would have pinch-hit to] face one of our right-handers [if they came in],” Francona said. “It didn’t work. Gonz?lez had like a .333 OPS [against left-handers] and Sheets has about an .800 against right-handers. Wanted to get to the top of the order.”

Aside from one clunky inning, Allen proved that he can be efficient and effective. And now, there’s even more of a reason for him to showcase himself.

The Guardians have both Triston McKenzie and Aaron Civale nearing their return to the big league roster. It’s safe to assume Hunter Gaddis will go back to Triple-A when one of them returns. But who between Tanner Bibee and Allen (assuming both Shane Bieber and Cal Quantrill are healthy at this time) will be optioned to make room for the other returning hurler? That’s a bridge the Guardians will soon have to cross.

The team is trying to prepare for this situation while also remaining focused on the present. And Francona said that an idea of a six-man rotation isn’t something that’s on the table.

“I don’t know how that would work,” Francona said. “If you’re talking about [doing that], you’re looking at a seven-man bullpen. And as you get into the summer with less days off, that would be hard.”

Allen and Bibee have both shown they deserve this opportunity and both have something to earn over the next start or two. But regardless of how the rotation shakes out, the future seems to be bright with this duo. Allen reminded us of that on Tuesday.

“I played with him the last two years and it’s just been the same consistent monster out there on the mound,” Guardians outfielder Will Brennan said. “He goes out there and gets outs with seemingly a chip on his shoulder, but it’s really fun to watch if you play behind that guy.”