It’s that time of the year, folks, the Browns have been there, done that, of course making us all miserable, the Cavs are almost done disappointing us, but in less than 7 days, our beloved Cleveland can become Tribe Town once again! Now, this team has seen a lot of changes since their playoff run last year, but no changes more significant than to the pitching rotation. Flamethrower Danny Salazar will hopefully see his first full season in the majors, we still have a mystery at the #4 spot in the rotation, and like always, Justin Masterson heads the otherwise mostly unstable rotation. So how’s this going to work this year? Allow me to explain.
Here’s how the rotation’s going to look this year:
Now, here’s an individual breakdown of each of the 5 (6):
The Jamaican, sinker ball specialist leads the Tribe rotation for another season, which could wind up being his last in doing so. Masterson’s pitches have great movement, and Masterson is good with a few unnoticed yet significant things. First of all, like I said, his pitches have a lot of movement to them. This means that most of the time Masterson throws a bad pitch, it typically lands out of the strike zone and not anywhere down the middle where it can be crushed. However, this also means Masterson’s control has been a tad sketchy at times. His sinker and slider are nearly unmatched and Masterson has good stamina, which, performance willing, can take him deep into ball games. Masterson’s at the age where he is just entering his prime, so he can build off of all of these things and turn into a truly dominant pitcher if he can work on his control a small, small bit.
Kluber is interesting to me. Kluber’s midseason form was really starting to breakout until he succumbed to a month long thumb injury that shattered his momentum. He came back late in the season, but he was never truly the same, despite being seemingly fully healthy. Kluber is incredibly susceptible to the big inning, and, unlike Masterson, Kluber isn’t someone who can typically be relied on to eat up innings. Kluber is excellent in the earlygoing, but his success overall this year will hinge entirely on whether or not Kluber can shake the fatigue bug and be dependable for at least 5-6 good innings on a start-to-start basis. The ceiling is still very high for Kluber, but the thing I like the most about him, is, he has multiple pitches to turn to, and can be quite unpredictable at times. This can perhaps attribute his reputation as an excellent early going pitcher.
Like Kluber, McAllister’s midseason form was really starting to breakout until a month long trip to the DL from a thumb injury damaged what was otherwise a mostly fine season for McAllister. McAllister is a pitcher with a good awareness. Paired with Yan Gomes, stealing bases with McAllister on the mound will be very hard. Unlike Kluber, however, McAllister is not amazing beginning a ballgame, but if allowed to overcome his early struggles, can settle in later in the ballgame. McAllister is long ball prone, but his stuff is eccentric. He definitely has the ability to lockdown this #3 slot in the rotation.
Tomlin, still young, is coming off of Tommy John Surgery 2 seasons ago. Last year, he pitched 2 innings in 1 appearance. He is someone who does not have to throw it hard to pitch well, he locates his pitches very well. However, late in games, when his location very slightly starts to desert him, that is when Tomlin can really be hit around. Tomlin has an overall decent track record as a starter, which gives him some figurative ‘brownie points’ over his competition in Carlos Carrasco.
Carrasco, also young at a meager 26, is also coming off of Tommy John Surgery a few seasons ago. However, unlike Tomlin, Carrasco spent a good deal of time in the majors last year. However, he posted a 7.87 ERA as a starter, and was optioned to Columbus late last year after a blowup against Detroit. Ahhhhh, but the key word for Carrasco is ‘optioned’, as he heads into this year with no more options. Carrasco is a guarantee to break camp in the majors, make no mistake, at the very least, he will be a long reliever, and he did well with the role, posting a 1.78 ERA as a relief pitcher for the Tribe. Early in Spring, Carrasco was the favorite to win the spot in the rotation, but a couple bumps in the road led to more uncertainty. Can Carrasco win a rotation spot? Having no options left, if Carrasco were to head to the minors for the Tribe again, it’d have to be through passing through irrevocable waivers first. Do you think a team would pass on a 26 year old pitcher with a relief track record equivalent to that of Carrasco’s? Because I sure don’t.
Ahhh, perhaps the most interesting in the rotation, Danny Salazar. The triple digit fastball, killer changeup flamethrower will enter the season likely to have his first full major league season, with no innings cap. That’s right. The bulldog has been unmuzzled and unleashed. Question is, can that bulldog find it’s bone? Enough of the puns, Salazar has shown he has the ability to chew up the competition with a deadly fastball and a abnormally high strikeout rate. Ah, but the side effect of a strikeout pitcher is pitch count. Is it worth striking out 10 batters in 5 innings if you have to throw 90 pitches to do it? Can Salazar manage his pitch count and remain efficient? That will be key in his overall success this year.