|Josh Tomlin (Photo: IPI)|
Whither Josh Tomlin.
He who has pitched at least 5 innings in all of his 31 Major League starts.
He whose 88-mile an hour fastball is well below Major League average.
The man who has become something of a folk hero in these parts for his ability to provide quality start after quality start despite less than adequate “stuff.”
How good is he for this contending Cleveland Indians team?
As the team prepares to start him for today’s game against the Minnesota Twins, Tomlin is the team leader in wins. He is second to Justin Masterson in innings pitched. Tomlin’s WHIP is barely over 1 at 1.04.
Clearly he is a valuable member of this team.
But is he the second most valuable starter on a contending team?
In April he was, posting a 2.45 ERA for the month to go along with 4 wins.
So too in May was he valuable enough for such a lofty perch on the Tribe pitching pecking order. During the second month of the season Tomlin won two more games and he posted another solid ERA of 3.03.
During the Indians disastrous month of June, Tomlin actually had a winning record of 3-2 despite an ERA of 5.84.
So far in July his ERA is an even 5.00, although he is 2-0 for the month.
For the season his ERA is 4.03 and his record is 11-4.
His steadily rising ERA is definitely a cause for concern. An ERA in the 4s is all fine and dandy for a 4th or 5th starter on a contending team, but for a second starter it is down right scary. Especially this season, the year of the pitcher, part deux.
Now, baseball is a game of adjustments. Tomlin was magical for two months. Unfortunately, it seems his magic tricks have been revealed. He does not miss bats as only 7.8% of the time does he get a swinging strike. He cannot keep the ball on the ground, producing only a 37.1% ground ball rate. As a result he has given up a team leading 18 home runs. Teams have obviously adjusted to him.
Does Tomlin have a counter adjustment in him?
The Indians can only hope. They don’t really have any other alternatives to confidently slide behind Masterson in the starting rotation. Carlos Carrasco is talented, but he is also young and wildly inconsistent, as most young pitchers tend to be. Alex White is young as well and will probably be prone to an innings eater out of the second slot in the rotation whenever he returns and settles in.
Finding that number two guy in the rotation is a key to the Indians remaining a contender.