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Four Down, One to Go

Terry Francona Offically Names Zach McAllister as Fourth Starter

Four Down, One to Go
March 10, 2013
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It’s hard to believe this is the halfway point of the 2013 spring training schedule. Normally the Cactus League is just getting underway, but thanks to the World Baseball Classic, the fun is extended in Arizona and Florida an extra week, giving us three more weeks of exhibition play before the regular season starts.

Regardless of the length of spring training, the time is still coming to address the various roster decisions and begin thinking about who will make the opening day squad. Indians’ manager Terry Francona made one such decision today regarding one of the two open spots in the starting rotation. Young right-hander Zach McAllister has formally been named the fourth starter in the opening day rotation.

While it shouldn’t come as a surprise to many Tribe fans, McAllister still entered camp without a guarantee of being in the rotation even after his strong rookie performance last season. He was constantly described as having a “leg up” for one of the available starting rotation spots. So far this spring, McAllister has looked sharp in four appearances going 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA. Only in his second appearance this spring on February 28th against Texas did he really get roughed up, surrendering five runs in two innings. On Saturday March 10th, McAllister was especially dominant in four innings against the Cubs, only allowing three hits and striking out three.

McAllister was drafted by the New York Yankees in the third round of the 2006 amateur draft. In his first four seasons in the Yankees’ minor league system, McAllister posted a 3.15 ERA between Arizona rookie league and Double-A. In 2010, the Yankees traded McAllister to the Indians for outfielder Austin Kearns. McAllister made his major league debut in late 2011 with the Tribe and went 0-1 with a 6.11 ERA in four appearances. After struggles by right-handers Josh Tomlin and Jeanmar Gomez in early 2012, McAllister was promoted to the big league level once again, but this time was ready. McAllister established himself that season as one of the more consistent starters in the rotation going 6-8 with a 4.24 ERA in 22 starts with Cleveland last season.

With McAllister now slotted as the fourth starter in the 2013 Indians opening day starting rotation, only one open spot remains in the rotation to be decided among Scott Kazmir, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Corey Kluber. Southpaw comeback candidate Scott Kazmir currently holds the advantage in that race given his strong spring performance thus far and contract status (out clause on April 2nd if not added to the Indians’ major league roster). Left-hander David Huff has been taken out of the running for the starting rotation, but will still compete for a spot in the bullpen as a long reliever/lefty specialist, according to Francona.

In addition to these roster decisions, Terry Francona also announced that the Indians will consider putting 13 pitchers on the opening day roster and go with a 3-man bench. The extra pitcher may be needed since the Tribe plays 13 straight games without a day off to start the season. It’s a possibility for at least the first week given that Carrasco must serve a six-day suspension carried over from 2011, when Carrasco was disciplined by Major League Baseball in early August for intentionally hitting Royals DH Billy Butler with a pitch.

With minor league camp now open and beginning spring training activity, more roster moves and decisions are expected soon as the Indians must start trimming down their roster with the season opener now three weeks away. Officially inserting McAllister in the rotation closes up one big hole in the roster. Spots on the bench, bullpen and one more opening in the starting rotation remain to be decided, but the field of candidates is now beginning to be narrowed down.

The 2013 Cleveland Indians are finally starting to take shape and so far, it looks pretty darn good.

Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.

User Comments

March 10, 2013 - 9:49 PM EDT
Yeah, Carrasco and bauer on reserve in Columbus would not be a bad thing. Good insurance for McAllister and Kazmir (and Myers and Jimenez too I guess).

And wow what a game today with USA and Canada. That was intense stuff. Playoff-like.
March 10, 2013 - 9:46 PM EDT
Carrasco got hit pretty good again today. Would think him and Bauer start in Columbus, and see what the rotation does in the first few weeks. Give them both some time to get some meaningful work in. Can't see them starting in Cleveland, except, of course, working out Carrasco's suspension.
Congrats to team USA for winning today against our scrappy Canadian team.

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