The Indians’ 2011 Rotation

Fausto Carmona will be starting for the Indians next year, but after him, there's a lot of uncertainty in Cleveland's projected rotation. The team's 2011 options are generally young, promising and unproven; here's a more detailed look.

Mitch Talbot has probably pitched well enough to earn a rotation spot for 2011 and the early returns are good for Jeanmar Gomez and Josh Tomlin. Both Gomez and Tomlin have ERAs under 4.00, but neither pitcher has started more than six games, so manager Manny Acta can't pencil them into his 2011 plans quite yet. David Huff has started regularly for the Indians, but opponents have hit him hard, so the Indians recently demoted him to the minors. Justin Masterson has followed up a strong 2009 season with a mediocre 2010 campaign (5.33 ERA) that probably doesn't guarantee him a rotation spot next year.

It seems like Carlos Carrasco has been around for a while, but the right-hander is still just 23. Carrasco has spent the season at Triple A Columbus, where he has a 3.77 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 143.1 innings. It seems like Carrasco, who the Indians acquired in the Cliff Lee trade, will be ready to start for the Indians in 2011.

Like Carrasco, Corey Kluber joined the Indians organization after the Tribe traded away a veteran starter. The Indians obtained Kluber, who is now pitching at Akron (AA), in the Jake Westbrook trade. The 24-year-old right-hander has a season ERA of 3.61 with 9.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9, though most of that came when Kluber was in the Padres organization.

Let's not rule out Zach McAllister, who the Indians acquired for Austin Kearns. The 22-year-old posted a 5.09 ERA at Triple A and Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer noted on Twitter tonight that the Indians may call McAllister up in September.

Two other prospects are just as promising, but not quite as ready. Hector Rondon broke out last season with a 3.38 ERA, 8.4 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in the upper minors, but the 22-year-old righty hasn't pitched since May because of forearm tightness. He is not a sure thing, but could start for the Indians at some point in 2011.

Alex White is holding his own at Akron in his first pro season. The 2009 first-rounder has a season ERA of 2.57 with 7.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 across two levels. He doesn't turn 22 until this weekend, so the Indians may want him to pick up more minor league seasoning. Some 2009 draftees – Mike Minor and Mike Leake come to mind – are already contributing in the majors, but most players take more time to develop.

The Indians also have depth in the upper minors in the form of 22-year-old left-hander Scott Barnes and 23-year-old right-hander Paolo Espino. Barnes has posted 8.0 K/9 and a 4.57 ERA at Akron and Espino has a 4.25 ERA between Akron and Columbus.

The Indians signed Carl Pavano and Kevin Millwood to short-term deals in recent years, so they could make similar offers this offseason. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince wrote today that he "wouldn't be surprised to see the Indians shop for a free agent veteran to eat up some innings." Perhaps Westbrook could return to Cleveland, where he has spent most of his pro career. After the Indians traded him, Westbrook suggested he'd be open to re-signing in Cleveland. 

The Indians will head into 2011 with a promising but unproven group of prospects and young major leaguers, so when Chris Antonetti takes over as GM after the season, he may look to sign an innings eater to complement the team's stable of youngsters.


37 Responses to The Indians’ 2011 Rotation Leave a Reply

  1. vtadave 5 years ago

    Bad news for Indians’ fans here. No future #1 starter in the system, and other than perhaps Alex White, nothing close to a #2 either. Bunch of 4s and 5s = 4th place in the AL Central for the next several years.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      That’s ridiclous and i’m guessing you obviously don’t follow the Indians system.

      Drew Pomeranz, Joe Gardner, Alex White, Jason Knapp are all potential #1’s and #2’s.

    • Try 5th place

    • NYY92 5 years ago

      wow you dont know anything.like span said jason knapp.and carlos carrasco is pretty good in my opinion could be a number 2,3 at least

  2. destribe 5 years ago

    Hagadone
    Knapp
    Rondon
    Carrasco
    Pomeranz

    5 guys just off the top of my head who have the ability to be at least a #3 starter (and much likely higher).

    4th place for the next several years? Doubt it vtadave.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      Forgot Carrasco. Joe Gardner is one that you forgot.

  3. vtadave 5 years ago

    Good to hear the optimism. I’ll buy Pomeranz perhaps, but Knapp and Hagadone have had more than their share of medical issues and Carrasco isn’t a guy I’ve been all that impressed with. I like Gardner a bit, but there really just isn’t that much in the way of upside here. LOTS of solid rotatin candidates, but, and this is just ME perhaps, but this isn’t exactly a top-heavy system.

    • alxn 5 years ago

      I don’t see why they need a traditional #1 to place higher than 4th. They should get enough out of their young pitchers to have a solid rotation soon enough.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      fair enough, and I’ve always liked your comments Dave, but I’m going to have to respectively disagree here. I’ll side with you on Carrasco and Hagadone, but Pomeranz, Gardner, and Knapp all have a chance to be at least #2’s. I don’t usually make comparisons, but in this case I will. Joe Gardner is pretty much the same pitcher as Yovani Gallardo, lot’s of k’s, fair share of walks, but great moxy and ace like potential. Pomeranz is Pomeranz and I’m sure you know enough about him but he has a chance to be a really special pitcher and definetly ace potential. Jason Knapp is a tall pitcher with strike out stuff. good off speed pitches and a very high ceiling. He spent most of the season with injury but ever since he’s been healthy, he’s been great. Alex White has a chance to be the next Tim Hudson. Not over powering stuff and doesn’t get a ton of k’s but knows how to pitch and throws strikes. Carrasco has tons of upside but he can’t get his act together in Triple-A. He’s still young and has lots of time to figure it out but could be a similar pitcher to maybe Dennis Martinez? That’s best case scenario though, I’m not as high on Carlos Carrasco as others are. Plus, you take Kyle Blair who I think could be something like Johnny Cueto at his best (not kicking. Pitching).

      What do you say Dave? Convinced yet?

      • vtadave 5 years ago

        Eh no, not convinced yet. Sure, White could be Tim Hudson, Pomeranz is a polished college pitcher, but “ace potential”? I’m not sure there just yet.

        Joe Garder = Yovani Gallardo? A stretch to say the least considering Gallardo was in the big leagues at age 21 and Gardner just reached High-A this year at age 22 and is striking batters out at a less than elite clip.

        • Hermie13 5 years ago

          Yeah the Gardner-Gallardo comp is pretty offbase. Gardner is a groundball machine, not a strikeout/Ace guy. I see him as being a solid #3 in the mold of a Jake Westbrook. Maybe he outperforms him, but I’d still take that from him.

          Pomeranz reminds me a TON of a young Cliff Lee. No one thought Lee would be an Ace. All the reports were saying ceiling of a #2, solid shot at being a great #3. Obviously the last 3 years he’s blown those expectations out of the water and to expect Pom to do that is insane….but he’s got a great fastball (needs some more consistency) and has a very nice knuckle-curve which was Lee’s pitch for most of his young career (the cutter is his pitch now though).

          Between White, Pom, Knapp, and Carrasco (VERY underrated by fans now) I think our rotation should be fine. I’m thinking it’s going to be very Rays-like in that we won’t have a true Ace, but enough #2/3 guys filling it out top to bottom that we can win.

          • Nyankss28 5 years ago

            Agreed and even if this rotation doesnt have an ace to anchor to the staff they could get by with a bunch of very solid #2 type stuff and #3 like potential to fill out the rotation, but when i think of the Rays i see Price as the ace and he has lights out stuff with Garza and Shields solid #2’s behind him, i think the tribe will have a staff strikingly similar to the Twins starting rotation very soon if prospects like Pomeranz, Gardner, Carrasco, Masterson and Knapp all fill out the rotation nicely and have the potential to reach the playoffs every year playing smart baseball behind Sizemore, Choo, Santana and Laporta.

          • Hermie13 5 years ago

            Well I was referring moreso to the 2008 Rays rotation, which consisted of Shields, Garza, Kazmir, Edwin Jackson, and Sonnanstine. No Ace there. Still not sold on Price as a true Ace but he is having a great year and is on his way to those levels.

            Agree on the Twins comp too.

            One disagreement here is that Sizemore is going to be gone in a year and a half at the latest. No way does he stick around past 2012. Would be a bit suprised if he suits up at all for the Tribe in 2012 actually. Weglarz is ready for LF and the Tribe is ready to hand CF over to Brantley it seems (risky but think they’ll do it at some point in 2011).

          • Nyankss28 5 years ago

            Oh i see what you mean of the Rays of ’08 and yeah i see what you mean now Kazmir was the ghost ace that only went 5-6 innings but thats correct, but i dont know how you cant be sold on Price yet, the mans a beast and will be for years to come…

            Regarding Sizemore… Wow i must have clearly misread the severity of his injuries i didnt know how bad it was but he seems to tease the Tribe with a couple of performances every year and that extension which still signed him to pretty much well under market value is looking like a liability now to Tribe if he ever does return, its really unfortunate to a guy that looked like the real deal in Cleveland and got banged up by playing 110% everyday… Its a good thing the Tribe have such solid outfield prospects to bandage up the team until Weglarz is ready and id really like to see Crowe start too he seems to play really gritty baseball out there i dont know if he is even close to regarded as a starter as brantley though if you could explain to me some of the Tribes future outfield/infield moves that’d be great

          • Hermie13 5 years ago

            Price was in the minors for part of last year. This year he has been great…but his walk rate and k/bb ratio isn’t anything overly special still. Before I’m ready to call him a staff Ace, he needs to have more than 1 good year. Like I said, he’s well on his way and his secondary stuff has come along much better than I would have thought. I’m not sold on him though because as said, IMO you have to prove you can repeat your success.

            As far as Sizemore….I wasn’t trying to imply his career was in jeapordy. I was referring to the fact that his contract is up after next season and then has a team option for 2012. I don’t see the Tribe A) giving him a big exention if he doesn’t rebound or B) giving him the extention if he comes out playing like the old Grady.

            Basically, either way he’s not going to be an Indians past 2012. He’s in a similar boat as Victor Martinez. Martinez was hurt most of 2008. He came back with a great 2009 and then was traded despite having an option for 2010.

            I dont’ think Grady will be traded next summer….but winter of 2011-2012 (next off-season), I would be shocked if he isn’t traded, especially if Brantley has the breakout 2011 I think he’ll have.

            Come 2012 I see the OF being Weglarz in LF, Brantley in CF, and Choo in RF.

            Infield (as the Indinas are projecting IMO) should look like this: Chisenhall at 3B, Cabrera at SS, Kipnis at 2B, and LaPorta at 1B.

            Santana will be behind the plate.

            DH is the interesting spot. Hafner is guaranteed $13M in 2012 plus a buyout in 2013. I don’t think he last this long….but that’s a lot of money to eat. If we get rid of him, there could be room for Wegz at DH and then Grady still in the OF…..but I’m thinking the Tribe sticks to their MO and deals Grady between July of 2011 and January of 2012.

            Tribe could also use Kipnis at DH and Phelps at 2B (or LaPorta at DH, Santna at 1B, and Marson behind the plate).

            Then hopefully LeVon Washignton is ready by 2013 to help out in some capacity as that will be Choo’s last year (unless we can convince him…and more importantly Boras to agree to an extention).

    • Hagadone has officially been pushed to the bullpen and will remain there for the rest of his career. Due to his injury history and overpowering stuff he was planned to move there since the Tribe got him in the VMart deal. I can only assume he began the year as a starter to get some more innings under his belt since he missed a lot of last season. Also, Knapp has only suffered from Tommy John surgery and is still only 19 so he has plenty of time to recover. I can still agree that it isn’t very top heavy as Knapp is far from a sure-fire thing, but there’s enough to be optimistic about.

      • Hermie13 5 years ago

        When did Knapp suffer from Tommy John surgery?

        He had minor shoulder surgery this winter….but not TJ surgery.

        There is still some talk of Hagadone as a starter, but he is going to the pen as you said this year and likely to open there next year (he is the one who had TJ surgery).

        He was used as a starter because there were people who felt he could make it one. His value has taken a mammoth hit with this move to the pen….but still a great prospect.

        • Yes you’re right my fault for getting the two mixed up. From what I heard of Hagadone, the Indians discussed moving him to the pen with him right when they acquired him. At some point he could be moved to the rotation, but it seems very unlikely.

          • Hermie13 5 years ago

            Oh, I agree it’s unlikely he moves back to the pen, but the original discussion of him moving to the pen had nothing to do with his performance, but moreso as a way to limit his innings in the 2nd half since he has had arm trouble (you don’t want to put too many innings on an arm like that too quick).

            However, due to his struggles with control there is now talk that he may stay in the pen for good (not just the rest of this year like originally planned). There still is a slim chance he starts again at some point next year…..but if I were a bettin man, wouldn’t wager much on it.

  4. Kelvin De La Cruz and Alexander Perez also have front of the rotation type of stuff, we’ll just have to see if they put it together.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      Don’t forget about good old Nick Hagadone. Probably not a starter though.

      By the way everybody, this doesn’t have to do with the Indians rotation, but how good is Jason Kipnis? The guy is awesome!!! People have said that that they would rather have him then Dustin Ackley. Levon Washington is going to be a great player. Maybe the next Denard Span.

      Chun Chen not only has the hardest name to say but he is a very very good catching prospect.

      Tony Wolters, Kyle Blair, and Tyler Holt are some nice 2010 draft picks.

      Did I forget Lonnie Chisenhall? No! don’t doubt me! And Nick Weglarz is a nice prospect as well. The system is really turning around into a very good one/

  5. Jonathunder 5 years ago

    I see us higher than 4th the next couple years. Even if you think none of these options are solid #1 guys, but them in a bullpen that really isnt that bad as we speak. Perez is the closer of the future, Frank Hermann is very solid, Tony Sipp has shown flashes of brilliance etc. We have a lot of solid pitching prospects, and it might be a good idea to trade them for some bats as the Indians just cannot score runs.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      But pitching is a big problem for them as well. I don’t think they should trade any of their young pitchers but I will say this, I’m not sure if Josh Tomlin or Jeanmar Gomez will ever have higher value than they do right now. So maybe those two could be dangled in trade talks.

      • Jonathunder 5 years ago

        I agree that the Indians pitching department cannot be called good right now. I do think that the Indians seem more set pitching wise for the future than our offense does. Our major league club cant score or get guys out, but the future Indians Pitchers seem to be on a better path than our hitters do.

  6. Hey Span if you ever want to have a serious talk about baseball with someone your own age, I’d be down.

  7. I don’t quite get the optimism of Cleveland fans. Which division teams will you be better than in the coming years? The Twins have a solid core that isn’t going anywhere, the Tigers and White Sox will spend the money, and the Royals easily have the best farm system in the majors with a few top of the rotation starting pitching prospects in Montgomery, Dwyer, Lamb, Crow, and Duffy.

    Cleveland better get used to the bottom of the division….they’re going to be there for awhile.

    • Nyankss28 5 years ago

      Well im not a Cleveland fan yet i do like the potential of their prospects alot and money isnt everything just ask the rays id really like it if teams played against each other on paper because then my Yankees would be in such a tight playoff race but thats what makes baseball great. The tribe are beginning that solid core of good players that the Twins showcased a few years ago and theres no reason why they cant be in the same position in a couple years or so with good development and good trades for solid pieces. Tigers and White Sox may still have the money but they have to spend it correctly, the Tigers have so many holes to fill its appropriate they have soo much money to work with, hopefully they can spend it correctly and the White Sox who looked dead at the beginning of the season are now striking back with the force most people expected with production from Danks, Rios, Buehrle, Thornton, Ramirez and even Konerko is surging with power all of a sudden, its hard to see every player though from the White Sox repeating such great seasons but you also have to accomodate for poor seasons from Jenks, Quentin, Beckham and Peavy (hurt) but didnt pitch like the pitcher they thought they were getting… its hard to tell which team will finish 4th in years to come but they all have potential to be great teams and will definitely beat up on each other in the central for years to come.

    • Hermie13 5 years ago

      The Royals definitely do not have “easily” the best farm system in the majors. I’d take the Tribe’s system hands down over theres. Would take the Rangers’ and Rays’ over them as well without question.

      • Well then you’re an idiot. Every publication is going to have the Royals system ahead of the Indians, and the Royals will have 5-6 prospects ranked ahead of the 1st Indians prospect.

        • Hermie13 5 years ago

          LOL. 5 or 6 ahead of the first Indian? Considering Chisenhall is a top 20 prospect, I find that hard to believe. And considering Kipnis has basically been called “a better prospect than Dustin Ackley” by baseball prospectus….

          You are dillusional my friend. I do think the Royals will be a top 5 system, but 5 or 6 guys in the top 20? I’d be shocked if they had more than 3 (Moustakas, Hosmer, and Montgomery).

          There is a good chance the Roylas system is ranked ahead of the Indians….but they aren’t the best in baseball. I still think the Indians 6-20 is so much better than the royals that it’ll make up for the small difference at the top. But we’ll see

          Still like the young talent we’ve brougth up this year more than the Royals (Santana will miss being a prospect by like 20 at-bats, but is better than any prospect the Royals have).

  8. Hermie13 5 years ago

    One name not mentioned that should have been is Anthony Reyes.

    He’s on rehab currently and on the 60-day DL. Tribe DFAed him then re-added him to the 40-man as they liked what they say in his rehab this winter. He’s struggled, but the Tribe may give him one last shot this spring to win a ML job.

    • mrsjohnmiltonrocks 5 years ago

      They probably should keep him around just to see. He’s had all the ups, downs, stops, and starts you can go through as a pitcher. He also stands out as an extremely hard worker-and this is an organization that is full of hard workers, so that’s hard to do.

      I’m rooting for him to salvage his career, even if Cleveland cuts him loose. He’s arbitration eligible, but he won’t make much since he’s at minimum wage on his rehab contract, and he’s not going to appear in any games this year. It all comes down to 40 man roster spots, and who they might lose if they roll the dice with him. My gut instinct is they deal him for a minor leaguer in the off season.

      • Hermie13 5 years ago

        Agree with most of what you said…though it should be noted that Reyes is actually expected to make an appearance for the Tribe at some point in September this season. At least according to Acta.

        Now will it be out of the pen or as a starter…..that remains to be seen. But I think the Tribe wants to at least get a look at him, since as you said, there’s the whole 40-man issue.

        I highly doubt they trade him for a minor leaguer. Tribe DFAed him last winter and no one claimed him. He has no trade value. My gut is he gets cut and hte Tribe tries to bring him back on a minor league deal, though he’ll likely opt for free agency instead.

        Though if he does pitch in September and actually surpsrises and pitched well….maybe he does survive the winter. I am with you and hoping he rebounds. I’d like to see a rotatoin of Carmona, Talbot, Masterson, Reyes, and Carrasco to start the year. Yes, won’t win us the division or even get us to .500 in all liklihood but I’d like to see the kids play.

        • mrsjohnmiltonrocks 5 years ago

          They did not DFA him- they non tendered him and re-signed him to a minor league contract in less than 5 hours. He was not made available through the waiver process; this deal seems like it was prearranged. They certainly can trade him for a minor leaguer that someone else doesn’t want to roster, or a player who is also sort of like him-injury recovered, with no idea what the future holds.

          Because he is still low cost there are pitching deficient teams, say like the Pirates, Astros, Diamondbacks that would take him. Also the White Sox-he fits all of their criteria for reclamation project-cheap, underachiever, and easily attainable.

          You only get organizational filler for him, but I think you get more than the waiver claim fee.

  9. hawkny1 5 years ago

    Trade Masty back to Boston….for DelCarmen…

  10. Hermie13 5 years ago

    Masterson has absolutely NOT had a “straightforwardly” bad year.

    As you even showed, his xFIP is 4.12 and his FIP itself is in the 4.2s.

    If Masterson was pitching for a team that wasnt the worst defensive team in baseball (and the ugliest infield I have ever seen) he’d not only be looking like a legit starting pitcher, but boderline frontline starter.

    His sabr numbers are mostly in line with Matt Garza for example, who is playing with one of (if not the) best fielding infield behind him. Their FIPs are both in the 4.2 range.

    It’s disgusitng how many ground balls (weakly hit) find holes on the infield in Cleveland and how many routine plays are botched (and then ruled hits by lunatic official scorers).

    Nasty Masty definitely needs to cut down on his walks, but he’s a LOCK for the rotation next year, and if not for (IMO) the worst defensive infield in the last 15 years, this wouldn’t even be a debate.

    I’m actually very disappointed in MLBTR as they usually pick up on FIP and don’t just rely on ERA to say a guy has been mediocre.

  11. Hermie13 5 years ago

    What you also have to remember is this is Masterson’s first year as a full-time starter at the ML level and only the 2nd year in his pro career (2007 was the only other time).

    It’s not easy going from being almost exclusively a reliver for 2 years to a full ML season as a starter. Bumps in the road are to be expected. Bascially, Masterson is a rookie this year.

    And while I agree 100% he needs to cut down on the walks, it is partly on the defense. He’s had to throw sooooo many more pitches than necessary due to their ineptitude that it’s led to much higher pitch counts much quicker, which in turn has led to the high walk totals.

    Again, he definitely needs to get over that and learn to pick up his defense. No arguement from me there…..but on a better team, his walk total would be lower, that I guarantee. A lot lower? No…but it’s not insane to say it’d be just as “low” as say David Price’s 3.7 per 9 inning number…..

    And I’m not saying Masterson will be an Ace or that he will ever approach Cliff Lee levels (I don’t think he will)….but…

    Masterson turned 25 prior to the season….he’s got a 5.23 ERA, 4.3 BB/9, 1.61 K/BB, 0.8 HR/9, and a 1.615 WHIP….all in his first full year as a ML starter.

    Cliff Lee in 2004 (at the age of 25 til he turned 26 end of August)….which was his first full ML season as a starter….he had a 5.43 ERA, 4.1 BB/9, 1.99 K/BB, 1.5 HR/9, and 1.503 WHIP.

    Lee had the higher K-rate….but Masterson makes up for it with his groundball rate.

    Again, I do NOT think Masterson ever approaches 2010 Cliff Lee….but in 2008, Lee’s K-rate was under 7 per 9 innings. So even if Masterson only stays at about 6.5-7 per 9 innings, he can be a great #2 (as you hinted at) or IMO, an Ace still.

    Main point is that it takes young starters time to get the feel for the MLs. Carmona was about run out of baseball after his disaterous 2006…..then he was virtually unhittable in 2007. Obviously the next 2 years weren’t kind but the Tribe stuck with him and he made the All-Star team (albeit, a pointless arguement point).

    IMO, Masterson needs to be given at least 2 more full seasons as a starter before anything should be done.

    That walk rate has got to come down though (another reason why IMO David Price is not an Ace).

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