Where Does the Rotation Stand Without Gavin Floyd?

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On Tuesday, the Indians found out that they will be without newly signed free agent SP Gavin Floyd for the majority of the season because he re-injured his right elbow during a bullpen session. Floyd, who originally sustained the injury last June while pitching for the Braves, underwent surgery to repair the damage. He will work with the Indians’ medical staff to determine the best option for recovery, which might include another surgical procedure.

Indians manager Terry Francona was especially sad after hearing the news. “That was a tough pill for him to swallow this morning, I’m sure,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He had done his rehab so diligently. He did everything, came out early, worked hard. He was so ready, and I think he felt really good about things. So it’s kind of like you get punched in the stomach” (Via MLB.com).

Floyd, who had signed a 1 year/$4 million contract with an additional $6 million in pitching incentives, was going through his throwing program this spring when he had to shut it down due to elbow discomfort. The 32-year old Floyd was recovering smoothly after he suffered his previous elbow injury which was encouraging since Floyd had undergone surgery June 25 to stabilize the fracture in his elbow, sustained June 19 in a start for the Braves against the Nationals. But after an MRI, Floyd’s worst nightmare came true.

Even though his elbow was recovering, the problem goes beyond the current injury. Floyd’s pitching delivery creates extra pressure on his elbow, especially on the release. His “hurky jerky” delivery is and will be the cause of injuries for the rest of Floyd’s career unless he makes some changes.

Here is the start where Floyd hurt his elbow last season. He had been pitching great until he hurt his elbow in the 7th inning.

As you can see, Floyd uses his “hurky jerky” motion for deception purposes and to get extra movement on all of his pitches. But you can also see that injuries can come from the delivery because his arm is never close to straight while he is delivering to home plate.

What is shocking is that between 2008-2012 with the Chicago White Sox, Floyd pitched on average 189.5 innings per season and never suffered a major injury. Floyd was supposed to get a big extension after the 2013 season but the same injury to his elbow took place and he ended the 2013 season with the White Sox  with a abysmal 0-4 record and a 5.18 ERA in only 24.1 innings.

So, Floyd has had the same injury to his right elbow for three consecutive years now and there is no telling if the injury won’t happen again in the future.

Francona commented on Floyd’s injury history, “Signing Gavin, we knew there had been some things in his arm before, so you always run that risk,” Francona said. “From a team standpoint, I think we’ll be just fine. Today’s a day where you’re thinking more personally about Gavin than other things,” (Via MLB.com).

Now with the unfortunate injury to Floyd, the competition for the 5th spot in the Indians rotation now becomes a competition for the 4th and 5th spots. The Tribe does have several good options for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation which should lead to good quality competition.

The Pitchers vying for the last two spots in the rotation include Danny Salazar, T.J. House, Zach McAllister, Josh Tomlin, Shaun Marcum, and veteran non-roster invitee Bruce Chen. With so many options for Tito to choose from let’s see how each of them are doing so far this spring.

Salazar: 2 G, 2 GS, 0-0, 7.36 ERA, 5 H, 2 HR, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO, 3.2 IP

House: 2 G, 1 GS, 0-0, 3.60 ERA, 3 H, 1 HR, 3 R, 2 ER, o BB, 4 SO, 5.0 IP

McAllister: 2 G, 1 GS, 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 9 H, 1 HR, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO, 5.o IP

Tomlin: 1 G, 1 GS, 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 3 H, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 ER, o BB, 1 SO, 2.o IP

Marcum: 2 G, 0 GS, 1-0, 2.25 ERA, 4 H, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, o SO, 4.o IP

Chen: 2 G, o GS, 1-0, 3.60 ERA, 3 H, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO, 5.0 IP

First of all, Danny Salazar has gotten off to a little bit of a slow start in his first 2 outings with 3 ER, 3 BB and 2 HR in only 3.2 IP. These stats indicate that he hasn’t been able to locate the ball as well as he wants to. The good news is that Salazar has given up all of his runs in only 1.2 innings, meaning that he has been solid in the other innings of work. If everything goes according to plan this spring, I believe that by the end of training he will be ready to take one of the two remaining spots in the Indians rotation.

As for T.J. House, he has been solid during the spring thus far. In his first start, House pitched 2 innings and allowed 0 runs with 0 walks and 2 strikeouts while being efficient on the mound. In that start, he only had 10 pitches and they were all for strikes. In his second start, House was solid again only giving up 2 runs in 3 innings pitched. I also think, just like last year, House will secure the 5th and final spot in the Indians rotation by the end of spring.

As for the other four candidates, I believe that Zach McAllister will have more success coming out of the bullpen because he doesn’t have to worry about conserving his velocity for 6+ innings and he only needs to pitch for 1-2 innings at a time. Tomlin, who is currently dealing with shoulder discomfort, will probably start the season in Triple-A as a starter and be insurance just in case of another injury. I also believe that Marcum will start the year in Triple-A because he is still working his way back from a right shoulder injury, but he might also have an impact in 2015. And last but not least I believe that veteran LHP Bruce Chen may find himself a spot in the bullpen as a long reliever and barring injury may find himself in the rotation sometime during the regular season.

Overall, the loss of Gavin Floyd will not go unnoticed and it is very unfortunate, but the Tribe do have quality depth behind Floyd. At this point, we as a fan base are not sure who will fill the last two spots in the rotation to start the season, but with multiple young arms and seasoned vets available the void left by Floyd will hopefully be filled with a good (hopefully healthy) replacement.

 

By Gabe Cohn

Follow me on Twitter: @CSTGabe

 

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