The exciting season of 2013 taught Cleveland a lesson that has proved itself time and time again. Cleveland is seeing this same lesson again as we head into the summer of 2014. Starting pitching is key.
The Indians, who were 24-30 just one week ago, have rallied for 5 straight wins, which gives them the longest winning streak in the MLB, including 8 straight wins at home. In the last 5 games, the Indians have been the beneficiary of several strong starting pitching performances. During this homestand, Tribe starters own a 2.27 ERA and have been baffling hitters at the plate. High strikeout performances from Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Justin Masterson and even Josh Tomlin, who is not normally a strikeout pitcher, have catapulted the Indians to the top of the MLB in terms of strikeouts by a pitching staff.
This run of solid starting pitching has the potential to continue tonight, with Corey Kluber, who is one of the best pitchers in baseball right now, taking the mound against a Boston Red Sox lineup that has been held in check by Tribe pitching for the first two games of the series. Kluber is 6-3 on the year with a 3.04 ERA and has been the most consistent starter for the Indians this season. Kluber has the chance of completing the three game sweep of the Red Sox and extending the Indians’ winning streak to an impressive six games.
While the starting rotation of Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin and TJ House is not nearly what the club started with on Opening Day, it seems as if this crew has really found a groove as we head into the summer months. Masterson seems to be settling in well as the season progresses further, Kluber has been wiping out any lineup that has gotten in his way, Bauer has responded very well in his first season as a regular member of an MLB club, posting an impressive 11.7 SO/IP rate to go along with an ERA of 3.63, Tomlin has returned from Tommy John surgery with vengeance, recording a 3-2 record and a 3.06 ERA, and even TJ House has done a decent job in his few starts, highlighted by Tuesday night’s showing against the Red Sox.
The rotation has the potential to get even stronger in the coming weeks with the return of Zach McAllister, who makes a rehab appearance for Single-A Lake County on Wednesday. McAllister started off the year in a good way, keeping his ERA in the low-3’s. However, McAllister ran into some troubles in May and saw his ERA inflate to an unhealthy 5.89. The 6’6″ right hander got some quality time off and is looking to bounce back from a few rough starts. If McAllister returns with some strong showings, this rotation could look pretty scary all of a sudden.
By Jay Cannon