Cody Allen flew through the Indians minor league system with no regard for human life. Or, at least, he did so without regard for the other pitchers he was competing with to get to the big leagues, as he made his MLB debut just 13 months after he signed his first professional contract. Some guys spend 13 years in the minors and never sniff the big leagues, but that’s because none of them have Allen’s stuff: a hard, vicious fastball, complimented (or complimenting, depending on how you look at it) by his devastating curveball.

Allen is still only twenty-five. He has a little over two years of service time for the Indians and has already become the present-day closer, and will likely be the closer for years to come: he has shown no signs of being anything but a dominant reliever, and is having a career-year, a year in which he was promoted to closer in the first half of the season.

Sure, his BABIP is .262 while the league average is at .295. His 1.71 ERA also belies his 2.79 FIP, and his 7.9% HR/FB rate is slightly lower than the league average (9.6%), so it seems like a safe bet that Allen’s stingy numbers will regress at some point. But even if Allen’s ERA matched his FIP — and I have to say, I’m mystified that his “fielding independent pitching” is worse than his ERA when the Indians have the worst defense in the league and play in a stadium that only slightly favors pitchers — a 2.79 ERA is just fine for a closer, particularly if you ask Indians fans, who have had the displeasure of watching the likes of Joe Borowski, Kerry Wood, and Chris Perez close out games over the last decade.

But Allen has two things working in his favor, and I’m not talking about his fastball and curveball in this case, though they are the vehicles with which he is able to strike out nearly 12 batters per 9 innings, which keeps his strand-rate at a whopping 83.3 percent. That’s a full 10 percentage points higher than the league average. This is not unsustainable, and is utterly consistent with his career strand-rate of 82.6%.

In last night’s game, Allen showed off his ability to strike people out and strand runners on base in the eight inning. Two outs, runners at second and third, and Avisail Garcia came to the dish. With the count full, Allen decided to come right after the righty, challenging him with a fastball, out and over the plate:

Cody Allen Fastball

Allen sat Garcia down with what appears to be a devastating four-seam fastball. He is saying: “Here it is, 96. See if you can hit it, big guy.” Of course, Garcia had already seen two of Allen’s curveballs, and knew he couldn’t fixate on one pitch. Because Allen’s curveball is really, really filthy, but more on that later.

The first batter in the top of 9th was Conor Gillaspie. He took a fastball down the middle, tried to check his swing at a curveball, and then Allen climbed the ladder on him:

Allen-Gillespie

 

YAKKA. Allen’s next victim was Tyler “Free-swingin'” Flowers. Again, Allen went to the fastball, as the pitch before had been a curveball in the dirt:

Allen-Flowers

No soup for you, Mr. Flowers. Finally, we get to see just how silly Allen’s bender can make you look. The last batter of the game was Dayan Viciedo, and on a 1-2 count, Allen threw this nasty thing:

Allen-Viciedo GIF

Poor Viciedo. Thank God nobody actually goes to White Sox games, otherwise that wayward bat might have hurt somebody in the stands.

For those scoring at home, Cody Allen struck out the last four batters of the game, stranded two runners and recorded a four-out save. (I should note that Allen faced five batters total, the first of which singled on a blooper to right field that plated an inherited runner).

Many closers rely on just two pitches, because they never face a batter more than once in a game and it is not necessary to have a bevy of pitches to keep hitters off balance. Allen is no different. What makes Allen an elite closer, however, is that both of his two pitches are excellent. He can get strikeouts with either, which means he can strand runners on base (should they ever get on base). That creates a lot of scoreless frames late in games, and it means Cody Allen just might be the Indians closer for a long time to come.

After all, the kid is just twenty-five.