Well, it had to happen sooner or later.
I love Josh Tomlin for his ability to consistently pitch deep into the game, even without his best stuff. But at least once or twice a year his lack of swing-and-miss stuff catches up to him and he gets rocked.
Tonight was that night for Tomlin, as he was knocked out of the game in the fourth, having surrendered eight runs (although only four earned).
Fortunately for the Indians, recent call-up Ryan Merritt was able to give them 4.1 innings in relief, so the bullpen comes out of this one relatively unscathed.
The outing was Merritt’s MLB debut, and while there are minimal expectations for him at the major league level it was nice to see the 24-year-old get his career off to a nice start.
Merritt has been a starter throughout his minor league career, and is essentially another Jeremy Sowers in terms of his style and repertoire.
Merritt’s fastball topped out at 89.7 mph tonight and averaged 87. Guys like that don’t often stick around for long in the majors, but every so often it works out for a lefty if he can demonstrate pinpoint control—which Merritt did in his debut. He threw 32 of his 40 pitches for strikes.
Other notes and thoughts on the game…
- Merritt is just the 14th Indians pitcher in the last 100 years to toss four shutout innings in his MLB debut. Cody Anderson, Luis Tiant and Sam McDowell are among the others.
- Jason Kipnis went 0-3. He’s batting just .233 in his last 10 games and his OBP has dropped to .318 on the season. They need more from Kipnis if he’s going to stay near the top of the order.
- Yan Gomes was 0-4 and saw just 10 pitches. If you’re going to bat under .200 at least take some pitches. At some point they might seriously consider asking him to take a short stint in the minors to work out his swing. If Roberto Perez weren’t on the 60-day DL they’d probably do it, but Chris Gimenez is among the worst defensive catchers in the majors. The coaching staff might simply be willing to put with Gomes’ bat and allow him to keep working with the pitching staff.
- Mike Napoli somehow managed to avoid striking out tonight. He has 36 this month, a franchise record for the month of May. He had a realistic shot at setting the single-month record entering today, but he’ll need five on Tuesday now. Mark Reynolds owns the top mark with 40 in June, 2013.