Going into the season, starting pitching for the Indians seemed like a huge strength of the team. Corey Kluber is a top 3 pitcher in the AL, Carlos Carrasco could be the ace of many other staffs, Danny Salazar has been very solid for the past 2 seasons and Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin have been serviceable pitchers for end of rotation.
So now with the trade deadline approaching and Danny Salazar returning from the disabled list, the big question is what the Indians should do with the starting rotation. Salazar’s return means that there are 6 starting pitchers on the roster so there will be one odd man out now and even then, most aren’t overly optimistic that going with the current starters on the roster will be enough to capture the AL pennant. So where do the Indians go from here and who should be the 5 starting pitchers?
First, let’s not even bother with talking about Kluber or Carrasco. Those 2 are the top 2 starters and won’t be moving at all from the rotation, so those spots are set.
Before we continue on about current Indians pitchers, here’s where the potential for a trade comes in to play. I know many fans will be upset if the Indians do not make a move for a starting arm before the deadline(July 31st), but the reality of it is they are most likely not going to be...
Why? A number of reasons.
Big deals in consecutive years are damaging to the farm, it’s just a matter of Sonny Gray being that guy that puts Cleveland over the top, like Miller was last season, and if not then they should pass on the deal.
So that leaves us with Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin for that 1 final spot. This is a tough call really, both have pitched poorly overall this season but Trevor Bauer should remain a starting pitcher, sending Josh Tomlin to the bullpen. This seems like it would be an unpopular pick as Bauer has fallen out of graces with many fans, partly due to his political views and overall attitude, but there are a few reasons why he should be the 5th starter over Josh Tomlin.
One of the worst things a relief pitcher can do is come out of the bullpen and walk guys, especially since there will be times he’ll come on in relief with men on base already. Bauer leads the team in walks and has a higher WHIP than Tomlin, I’d trust Tomlin to come out of the bullpen and shut down an inning before Bauer would, especially considering how different of a change it would be for hitters if Tomlin were to relieve Kluber or Carrasco. When splitting hairs over pitchers with similar stats, how they fit in to the bullpen should definitely be a factor, and Tomlin would make a better pitcher coming on in relief than Bauer would. He could easily smooth over the rockiness of Brian Shaw, where Bauer might just be another Brian Shaw out of the bullpen.
There’s also their overall stuff, and I know we’ve been hearing about Bauer having a ton of talent and just not producing but I’ll take a “hit or miss” 5th starter with the potential to throw a gem over someone with just decent stuff. We’re not asking either to be a top of the line starter, so the risk-reward with Bauer should come into play here.
So that’s what it should look like going forward barring any trades. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer as the starting rotation and Josh Tomlin in the bullpen. When you look at it that way, if Clevinger remains pitching the way he has and Salazar finds his groove and gets back to 2016 form, this rotation may be good enough for a pennant run after all.