Opening Day in Toronto is less than two weeks away. This is the time that you start to see more and more moves as the Indians try to pare their roster down to 25 for the regular season. The Indians announced that LHP Scott Barnes, RHP Trevor Bauer, and RHP Corey Kluber were optioned to Triple-A Columbus today. Giovanni Soto, back from his stint with Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, has been reassigned to minor league camp. This leaves the spring training roster at 40, which means there are 15 more people left to cut. (The breakdown is 19 pitchers, 5 catchers, 10 infielders, and 6 outfielders.)
Were there any surprises in these moves today? Not really, except I guess I could label one as “kind of” a surprise – I thought that Scott Barnes may end up making the Opening Day bullpen. It seemed obvious that the 22-year-old Bauer would probably start the season in Columbus. Even though Kluber seemed like an outside chance to make the starting rotation, I expect the Indians will end up going with Scott Kazmir. I’d say “Option B” at this point is probably Carlos Carrasco.
Here is a bit more information about each player and their performance this spring:
Scott Barnes – Barnes came to the Indians in 2009 in the Ryan Garko trade with San Francisco. This spring he’s thrown 6.1 innings, with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. Barnes threw 19 innings with the big league club in 2012, with a 4.26 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP, and threw 52 innings in Columbus, for a 3.98 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. As for lefties in the pen, the Indians already have Nick Hagadone and Rich Hill (who was added to the 40-man roster) and they could decide to add David Huff as a long reliever. Barnes has performed well enough, but since he has options remaining, and there are other left-handed options for the Indians, it does make sense to have him start the season in Columbus.
Trevor Bauer – I’ve been impressed with Bauer for the most part this spring, but he’s struggled with his command at times. Yesterday against the Angels, he looked good until he hit the third inning; he gave up 3 earned runs on 5 hits over three innings. The one bad thing about Bauer’s performance (outside of the third inning) is that he seemed to throw a lot of pitches. Even when he was accurate, hitters seemed to foul off a lot of balls. He needs to improve upon that (by throwing fewer pitches for balls), or he probably won’t make it through five innings in a game. He’s young and has options; it’s not a huge stretch to think that he may work his way to Cleveland before the end of the year. This spring he’s 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.286 WHIP over 14 innings pitched.
Corey Kluber – I was set to see Kluber pitch in Surprise against the Royals on March 8, but unfortunately that was the game that was rained out in the third inning. I did see a bit from him, although not enough to fairly judge his brief performance. All I can say is that the Royals seemed to be hitting the ball pretty hard; it’s just that Kluber got lucky at times and they were hit hard right to a fielder. This may sound insane, but for some reason, Kluber is just one of those people that I don’t trust. He’s looked solid at times, but for some reason I always think, “oh boy…here we go,” every time I watch him pitch. It’s like I’m almost waiting for the wheels to come off, even if they never do. Since he has options remaining, it probably makes sense to have him start the season in Columbus; they can always bring him back to the major league club if need be. This spring Kluber is 0-0 with a 6.43 ERA and a 1.857 WHIP in 7 innings pitched. He was extremely shaky when he was first called up to Cleveland late last season, but did calm down eventually.
With Carlos Santana and Mike Aviles back in camp, the whole team is finally back together. Over the next week or so we should start to see a number of roster moves, as well as people moved from the major league to the minor league camp. Pitchers are being stretched out, and offensive players are getting more at-bats. April 2 will be here before you know it.