Indians’ New Look Rotation Needs A Fifth


With things looking better after an improbable three game sweep over the Detroit Tigers, the Indians are in need of a fifth starter to emerge. After being swept in gruesome fashion by the Oakland A’s over the weekend, things were looking bleak for the Tribe. However, they showed remarkable resilience and found a way to top the best team in baseball in three straight hard fought ball games. The Indians rotation got a much needed boost when Trevor Bauer provided a gutsy start on Tuesday night when he went 6 innings while giving up only two runs and securing his first American League win and a spot in the tribe starting rotation for the near future. Bauer is replacing the scuffling Danny Salazar who gave up 5 earned runs in just 2 and 2/3 innings Tuesday in AAA Columbus.

The Indians rotation looks better with Josh Tomlin (3-1) and Trevor Bauer (1-0) in it but the problem now becomes Zach McAllister. McAllister won 3 of his first 4 starts and posted a 2.28 ERA while looking like a solid component of the tribe starting staff. Things have fallen apart in a hurry since then for McAllister. He has gone winless in his last six starts and watched his ERA balloon to 5.89. On Wednesday, his troubles continued as he gave up 5 runs (4 earned) in just 2 innings. That makes McAllister’s last 4 2/3 innings just about as bad as it gets. He has given up 17 runs on 16 hits going back to the 4th inning against Tampa Bay on May 10th. That is a horrific 30.84 ERA over that span. It became obvious today that something was very wrong with him. When asked about what he was going to do with McAllister after Wednesday’s game Francona said “I want to talk to Mickey (Pitching Coach) about it. He was on such a nice roll. We’ll regroup and see where he is at.”

As things are starting to look up for the Indians after such an impressive 3 game sweep against the Tigers, it is ever so critical that the Indians nail done their starting rotation. The problem at this point is that the depth that GM Chris Antonetti and Francona once had available to them has been exhausted and now makes up 2/5 of their current rotation. Currently there is no one else in line for a promotion and neither Carlos Carrasco nor Salazar are valid options right now. Where do the Indians turn for a fifth starter? McAllister is not fit for the job but may be forced to continue trying to figure it out on the fly.

Due to the 13 inning marathon that exhausted all available relief pitching on Wednesday against the Tigers, Francona was forced to use tomorrow’s starter Josh Tomlin in relief a day early. This does create an opportunity for someone to get a spot start tomorrow night in Baltimore. The Indians will most likely turn to either Kyle Davies or Travis Barnwart from AAA Columbus. T.J. House is the guy that could be thrown into the conversation but is unlikely available for tomorrow’s game. Whoever gets the call tomorrow should consider it an audition as the Indians will be looking for another starter to step up. The other avenue that the Indians could explore is a possible acquisition of sorts. This gets very tricky at this point though due to the Indians slow start. Expectations would have you believe that Antonetti has a list of possible prospects that could be dealt if they were in a jam such as this. However, the possibility that the Indians could end up being sellers later in the year would make that sort of a move right now very counterproductive in the long run.

Tomlin and Bauer have provided the Indians with a nice lift. With them pitching well, the Indians rotation takes on a new look. The question is who or how will the Indians fill the fifth spot? It would be nice if Salazar or McAllister would find their game but reality is the Indians do not have time to wait for one of them. I don’t believe Francona can continue to run McAllister out there ever 5 days the way he is going now. Look for the Indians to start auditioning AAA starters or to possibly make a move in attempt to complete this teams’ rotation transformation.

By: Brad Ward

Follow @CST_BradWard on Twitter



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