The Indians entered the offseason with enviable depth in their pitching staff, particularly among rotation hopefuls. While that led some to wonder whether trades might be considered, to this point the Cleveland organization has not shipped away pitching.
Midway through Spring Training, it seems the situation is beginning to resolve itself — at least as to how things will look when camp breaks. Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer has the latest on the defending AL Central champs.
Per Indians skipper Terry Francona, the current expectation is for Mike Clevinger to hold down a rotation spot to open the season. “He’s strong, and he should be able to be that innings-eater type pitcher,” says Francona.
Of course, Clevinger did a good deal more than eat innings last year. 2017 was a breakout effort for a pitcher who entered the season with just 53 MLB frames under his belt. Over 121 2/3 innings, including 21 starts, he posted a 3.11 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9.
Suffice to say, such a campaign would secure most hurlers a starting job for the ensuing season. For the pitching-rich Indians, though, there are quite a lot of other arms to consider.
At the onset of the offseason, the biggest question surrounded enigmatic righty Danny Salazar, who has long dealt premium stuff but suffered from injury and performance lapses. He wasn’t traded, but now there’s a shoulder injury to worry about. Though it’s possible Salazar will return to pitching off of a mound in a few days, says Francona, the pitcher is “not going to be ready” for the start of the season.
That news more or less sews up a spot for Clevinger, though this organization still has some pitching decisions to make. As Hoynes writes, the club is still waiting to see how the competition plays out between Josh Tomlin and Ryan Merritt. The former has struggled with long balls in recent years but remains an elite control artist, while the latter — who is also more notable for limiting the free pass than for strikeouts — has produced good results in very limited MLB action.
In addition to deciding the outcome of that battle, the Indians will be making some interesting bullpen decisions. Tomlin or Merritt could join the relief unit, but they’ll be contending with a long list of possibilities, including quite a lot of non-roster invitees (as shown in this Indians depth chart). All told, there’s still a good bit of potential roster intrigue in Cleveland.
I think Salazar’s stuff would befit a dominant reliever, maybe in a Miller/Hader/Greene type role. He’s injury prone, but his stuff is electric, so I think he’d greatly benefit from the reduced innings.
I agree. Yes, it would be great if he could get back to form and start, but that’s not looking like a possibility for him. I wonder if his off-season conditioning is poor…
the team may be better off with Salazar in the pen. They still have Kluber, Bauer, and Carrasco to lead the rotation into the playoffs. They could really shorten some games going Salazar, miller, Allen. Would cancel out the loss of Bryan Shaw and then some.
I agree that he’d be a potentially dominant reliever, especially since he hasn’t shown much of an ability to pitch deep into games. Maybe the bullpen is the route they could take next year since Miller is likely leaving as a free agent anyway.
But the amount of talent he’s shown out of the rotation is insane, and if he can maintain that and just become more consistent, he’d be a really good starter. It’s probably too early to make him a full-time reliever, but it’s still something to consider.
To clarify, his inability to pitch deep into games doesn’t have any correlation to how he’d do as a reliever, but it’s another reason to consider him in the bullpen
Please clarify that clarification.
Before you clarify your clarification, remember Miller was once a highly regarded starting pitcher
So many Johnny Superscouts so few jobs
I also agree. And with the possibility of losing Miller and Allen after this season, he would be a great candidate for the back end of the pen.
Good to see Clevinger finally getting his due. What a steal that trade turned out to be.
Jerry Dipoto special. My Angels could really use Clevinger.
For those interested, the name “Penelope” tattooed on his arm is his first born daughter.
Didn’t even notice. Had to look after you said something about it though.
I thought it said Dine claps.
Lol. I can see that.
You know your bullpen is crazy good when you’re more concerned about Miller and Allen entering their walk years, than questionable Starting Pitching.
Shaw already left
Cobb or Lynn could be a good fit here at the right price. Not likely to happen, but couldn’t hurt them.
maybe a trade with the Brew Crew sending some pitchers for Santana or Broxton…
Some pitchers for Santana or Broxton? As long as they’re at major league level and mediocre I’d take that in a heartbeat. Santana and a low tier prospect for one good pitcher is more likely imo.
With the market for corner OFs the way it is and the knocks against Santana it’s gonna take more than a low tier prospect along with him to get a good MLB arm. Salazar was the one they may have had a shot at with the questions around his injury history and consistency, and low and behold he gets hurt again and nixed any shot at that happening.
I wouldn’t say it’s completely nixed yet. At this point Salazar will most likely start the year on the DL for a few weeks to start the year but when he comes back he will most likely go into the rotation. This gives them a chance to decide what to do with the Merritt/Tomlin situation too. I like Tomlin but he is a free agent next year so looking at the big picture I would look to trade him to a club that has an injury and needs a 5th starter while leaving Merritt in the pen.
If Salazar stays healthy through June and there is still a need in the outfield they could trade him. If he doesn’t pitch well you can move him to the pen at the all star break. If they started to stretch Merritt out around the break they could have time to do it with the way off days are scheduled post break.
The 2 big questions are do the indians want to go this route and will anyone be willing to give what they need by then.
As far as the trade to the Brewers for Santana as rumors were stating earlier in the offseason, yeah, they are completely nixed. Salazar could be moved still later on, but he’s going nowhere until he is back healthy and I would guess Milwaukee would have already addressed their pitching issue by then.
That’s the mystery of a 162 game season. We are talking about Salazar being healthy but the average was over 10 starting pitchers used per team so there is a good chance even if they fill the need during spring training it may resurface by july.
True, but I really don’t see Santana still being part of the team by July.
Tomlin should pitch opening day
Too many good starters? That’s a nice problem to have.
If they put it all together could be their year. Great pitching staff with an excellent manager.