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Second Thoughts: Internal options for the pitching staff

Second Thoughts: Internal options for the pitching staff
July 18, 2013
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With the trade deadline looming the Indians are said to be extremely active in trade discussion to improve the current team. Reports have linked the Indians to nearly every big-name presumed available starting pitcher and they’re also said to be on the lookout for relief help. Their preference is to land a starter who is under team control past this season. Of course, that’s an expensive proposition.

The Indians are still facing an uphill battle to earn a playoff spot, and the thought of sacrificing prospects for short term gains might not be the best course of business at this point. If that’s the determination of the front office then the team will have a need to look internally for players that can shore up the pitching staff.

The goal of this article is to identify and discuss those players.

Starting Pitching

Danny Salazar – With the struggles of Carlos Carrasco in the majors and Trevor Bauer at the majors and AAA, Salazar has risen from AA to the Indians sixth starter in just half a season. Right now he would seem to be the first starter called up in the event of an injury, bad performance, or the need for a spot starter. Unfortunately, Salazar’s workload is being monitored and it’s doubtful he’d be allowed to take the ball every fifth day for the balance of the season if it came to that. He could be a valuable fill-in short term and even impact the club down the road in the bullpen.

Trevor Bauer – It was about at this point in the season when we were hopeful that Bauer would be forcing his way into the Indians’ rotation. Instead, he’s mostly struggled in his spot starts in Cleveland and he’s been disappointing at AAA to boot. Bauer’s strikeout rate has dipped and his walk rate has risen from last year. He needs more development in Columbus, and unless it’s out of necessity I don’t think he’ll be much of a contributor in
Cleveland the rest of the way.

Carlos Carrasco – Carrasco’s struggles in Cleveland have been covered at length. In June, he was given a chance in the rotation only to turn in four disastrous starts mixed in with one good one.  Now Carrasco is back at AAA where he’s been pretty good this year. He’s a talented pitcher who has to get past some mental hurdles to take the next step forward. It’s hard to say where he stands in the Indians eyes right now, but it seems possible that he’ll have another chance at some point this year to turn things around. With Bauer’s struggles and Salazar’s workload concerns, I doubt we’ve seen the last of Carrasco this season.

Relief Pitching

C.C. Lee – Lee has one of the best arms in the Indians entire system. He’s currently on the Indians roster and the struggles in the pen dictate that he may have a chance to stick. They need some fresh arms in the bullpen and Lee is good enough to have a Cody Allen type of impact in a middle relief role. I hope he’s not shuttled back and forth based upon roster needs as the Indians need his arm.

Preston Guilmet – Guilmet has one appearance in Cleveland this year and it was an impressive one. He’s likely placed himself in position to be the next reliever called up should/when that need arises. Guilmet has been great at every stop in the minors and can provide one skill that the current group of relievers struggle with: throwing strikes. I feel that Guilmet and Lee, in particular, can shore up the Indians middle relief corps right now.

Matt Langwell – Langwell is another reliever who got a cup of coffee with the Indians already this season. He isn’t the high-end arm that a C.C. Lee or Austin Adams is, but he’s decent depth moving forward should the options ahead of him falter.

Blake Wood – Wood is fresh off rehab and trying to work his way back from Tommy John surgery. He’s a wildcard at this point. So far in several different levels in the minors Wood has 18 strikeouts in 14.2 innings. Unfortunately, that has also come with 12 walks from a guy who has never had particularly good control. Wood did show good enough stuff in Kansas City for the Indians to take a flier and rehab him. It’s a mystery when exactly he’ll become a viable option but I imagine the Indians are going to take a look at him eventually.

Bryan Price – Statistically, Price might be having the best season of any reliever in the system. At AAA this year he’s posting a career high strikeout rate (11.9 K/9) and a career low walk rate (1.9 BB/9). He’s behind the relievers listed above, except maybe Wood, but appears ready for his shot in Cleveland when the time comes.

Scott Barnes – Working to his advantage is that he’s on the 40 man roster and the Indians have a need for left-handed relievers. Working against him is that he’s been terrible in Cleveland and Columbus this year. Barnes doesn’t appear to be on the radar any longer, but you never know.

Austin Adams – With the options ahead of him I’m not sure that Adams finds himself in Cleveland this year. However, he’s garnered a lot of attention lately and for good reason. Adams has a triple digit fastball and 50 strikeouts in 35 innings in Akron. He’s a big-time relief prospect and if he did find himself in Cleveland this year he could have a big time impact.

User Comments

Joe Chengery
July 19, 2013 - 1:08 AM EDT
Thanks Tony for the update on Sturdevant- hope he can come back 100%, as he was one of the most promising arms in the system.

I noticed that too regarding McCalister and Salazar. At first glance, it looked like they might be preparing Salazar for a relief role, but I think Andy's thinking makes more sense - if McCalister feels okay, he probably starts Tuesday for the Indians in Seattle, while Salazar takes McCalister's spot at Columbus. That doesn't mean Salazar couldn't relieve for the Indians later in the season, but for now, it would still benefit Salazar and the Indians for him to continue developing as a starter, as that's what you really want Salazar to become long term barring injury or ineffectiveness.
July 19, 2013 - 12:12 AM EDT
I'd be surprised if Adams is not in Columbus soon. He's ready and deserves shot in CBus, though they also might not have space either. Lots of pen guys of interest there.

Sturdevant is out for the year. he is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
July 18, 2013 - 11:28 PM EDT
I'm guessing Salazar pitched tonight so he'd be available on normal rest Tues if McAllister can't go for some reason.
Rich S.
July 18, 2013 - 10:49 PM EDT
It could be telling in that tonight in Columbus McCalister pitched six innings and Salazar pitched the last three. Sign of future plans?
July 18, 2013 - 9:06 PM EDT
Agreed, on Hagadone. He's definitely an interesting arm, but just can't seem to get it all together...

Agreed, on Barnes. He's stuff seems to have fallen off. But he looked like a number 3 until that knee injury sidelined him.

I'm just hoping one of the two finds themselves. It seems like there is always a LH or two that takes a bit longer to develop.
Joe Chengery
July 18, 2013 - 8:12 PM EDT
I like the idea of Jimenez/Salazar, so long as it doesn't tax Salazar's arm. As for Hagadone, yes, I think he has a chance to make an impact- he got into a good groove at one point- just think it's inconsistency that typically hits inexperienced players- the stuff is still there.

As for Barnes, ever since he was shifted from a starter to a reliever, he hasn't been as good. He looked promising as a #3 starter prospect a few years back before he injured himself coming off the mound trying to field a ground ball in what may have been his final AAA start before he would have been called up to Cleveland (as a starter). The following season, the Indians shifted him to the bullpen, presumably to limit his innings, but they never shifted him back, and though he looked solid his first season as a reliever, he really didn't reach the same level as a prospect as a reliever, certainly not at the level of Hagadone because he doesn't have the same stuff as Hagadone. It probably would be too late to shift Barnes back to the rotation (even though there is room- Matsuzaka's position, for instance), but Barnes looks to be more organizational filler now rather than an impactful prospect like he once did.

I'd be curious to know: What is the status on Tyler Sturdevant and what is his ETA? He had one of the best arms in the organization (along with Allen and Adams), but haven't heard anything on whether he's close to pitching again in 2013. Any info would be greatly appreciated- thanks!

July 18, 2013 - 7:36 PM EDT
Michael, totally agree with you on Hagadone. Let's hope he can do it, he's got a golden opportunity and the team desperately needs what he could provide as an effective lefty rp.
July 18, 2013 - 7:34 PM EDT
Rich S (and others): I know using starting pitchers in "piggy back" relationships is something that is done in the minors for various reasons but, since you seem to be suggesting the idea for the Indians rotation, has it been done on the major league level at all? Intriguing idea though.
Rich S.
July 18, 2013 - 3:50 PM EDT
I believe CC Lee is real deal and could help in 7th or 8th inning set up while Pestano recovers. If Myers does recover, I'd like seeing him replace Albers as long man/mop up duty. If not, I could see Salazar being on same rotation as Jiminez, with Salazar pitching the last 3-5 innings. A Jiminez/Salazar duo would be as good as any starter the Indians might acquire.
July 18, 2013 - 3:17 PM EDT
I did leave Hagadone off the list. That was on purpose since he's been mostly a part of the bullpen this year. I think he has a chance to have a very strong second half. Another one of those guys that needs to have more consistency though.
July 18, 2013 - 2:44 PM EDT
You seem to have left Hagadone off the conversation. I have to think he'll get another turn in Cleveland if only a Sept call up at this point. He needs to make his mark and this is the season to do it.
July 18, 2013 - 2:05 PM EDT
i wish they would make a move with adams, i think he has shown he has what it takes to be succcessful at the AAA level... a change of scenery would do him good i think. as bad a cleveland has been this year in the pen i think he could do better than some of the options on the big league level and could definitely do no worse!!
July 18, 2013 - 12:53 PM EDT
Mcallister is starting in Columbus tonight. Puts him in line to start with Indians in Tuesday if he is okay.
July 18, 2013 - 12:06 PM EDT
Tony where is mccallister pitching tonight. all the affiliates are in action. If he is to start tuesday in puget sound then tonight he should do a rehab start somewhere. Hopefully they arent using a sim game to recreate the game conditions. please advise
July 18, 2013 - 10:54 AM EDT
frankly michael i would rather see the tribe get help from within will be anxious to see how mccallister pitches tonight whereever he throws. Hope they dont limit his pitches and have a decent pitch count allowed. in a couple weeks we need answers and i got a hunch that zack is one of the good answers. We will find out in the next week. it seems to me that we baby pitchers these days. When i was younger to lead your team in innings you needed to throw about 300 innings and there are more injuries today then there ever was before so taking it easy doesnt seem to do much good. I would love to see the numbers of injuries and length of major league service that starters had in the days of the 4 man rotation. I would guess that it is worse today with the 5 man rotation than it was in the days of the 4 man rotation. anxious myself to see more of salazar and adams asap

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