Second Thoughts Game #114: Indians 3, Reds 8
This game hurt.
Literally, in the case of Michael Brantley who left the game early with a leg injury that’s not expected to be serious. The offense was shut down by the Reds’ Mat Latos, and Danny Salazar and Scott Atchison were roughed up for a total of eight runs. Other than good days at the plate from Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes, there wasn’t much that went right in this one.
This is a game that you have to put aside as quickly as possible. The Indians have dropped back-to-back games against the Reds following a four game winning streak, but when you’re facing Johnny Cueto and Latos that can certainly happen. It puts extra pressure on them to win today’s game to salvage a split and put the last two games behind them before heading to New York for a three game set that has significant Wild Card implications.
Salazar Loses, Sent to Columbus
The final line doesn’t look great, but I don’t think Salazar pitched that bad in this game. As is often the case with him, it was the long ball that got him into trouble. He made a couple of bad pitches and gave up all of the Reds’ runs via homer.
The home runs are a concern as the Indians staff has tasked him to work on keeping the ball down in the zone since his last stint in Triple-A. However, considering his command struggles earlier in the year it’s important to note that he didn’t walk a batter in this game and struck out five in his four innings of work. Without those two home runs this could have shaped up to be a third straight good start for Salazar.
After the game it was announced that he would be sent to Columbus, with C.C. Lee coming up to reinforce the bullpen. Salazar is expected to make one start there before returning to the Cleveland rotation later in August. The team has an off day on Monday and Thursday next week, so I imagine they’ll work with a four man rotation for the time being, allowing Salazar to get some additional work in Columbus.
I’m not discouraged with this start, or the resulting demotion afterward. I think the team understands that Salazar is working through some adjustments right now, but at the same time they need anything he can offer in the rotation. It’s a tough position to be in for player and team. This is an opportunity for him to take a step back for the next week and refocus on the things that made him effective in his two previous starts before returning and hopefully giving the pitching staff another shot in the arm.
Carrasco to Return to the Rotation?
It was announced during the game that Josh Tomlin was being moved to the bullpen. After having written a bit over the past couple of weeks about the possibility of Carlos Carrasco being moved back into the rotation, this move seems to be the precursor to that happening. If it happens, count me as being in favor. I’ve written about this over the past couple of weeks. Considering the team’s lack of other internal options and Carrasco’s success in the bullpen, this is one of the few bullets the team had left to use.
Quite simply, other than Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer the Indians starters aren’t getting it done. Danny Salazar is heading to Columbus, Josh Tomlin and Zach McAllister are struggling mightily, and T.J. House is more of a last man standing than a pitcher the team can bank on to give it quality starts over the next two months. In a perfect world, the team would be replacing three starters. Of course, it’s not a perfect world, and right now they just need to find anyone who can give them some quality innings.
Carrasco is a complete wild card. Everyone knows the narrative by now. He has the upside to be a great starter, but he’s never been able to put it together. He’s had much more success as a reliever. With the predicament that the team is in now, his upside is too tantalizing to be ignored. Carrasco doesn’t have a defined role in the bullpen right now, so losing him there shouldn’t be too costly. It’s an upside play with very little to lose.
- Yan Gomes is on fire of late. With another home run and double in this game, his slash line since the All-Star break is .397/.424/.730/1.154.
- It’s not just the rotation where the Indians have a lot of moving parts. The outfield isn’t in great shape either. Nick Swisher made a start in left on Wednesday night and Mike Aviles has been seeing time in left and center field. I’m not a huge Michael Bourn fan, but the team really can use him back at this point.
- The last game against the Reds will feature T.J. House facing off against Homer Bailey. House is coming off an appearance where he pitched five scoreless innings and the Indians can use more of that in this game.
Brantley 3 Carlos 4 and Gomes 5 should be set in stone. As long as Carlos doesn't go off the deep end again. Someone tell Tito to wake the hell up.