In the great Graham Greene-scripted film The Third Man, Joseph Cotten spends 104 minutes trying to figure out who the third man present was when his friend Harry Lime died. Cotten had it easy compared to the Indians’ search for a fifth man to complete the starting rotation.
Barring some crazy unforeseen event/act of God/visa status miracle, Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Tomlin, and Derek Lowe are assumed to be the starting four (the order is my guess). The fifth starter position is up for grabs among Kevin Slowey, Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff, and Zach McAllister.
Despite setbacks due to injuries and a disappointing 2011, I think Slowey could be a solid starter for us. He was 10-3 in 2009 and 13-6 in 2010 before having wrist surgery. He has a consistent, no-nonsense delivery that I really enjoy watching. Here’s a quick Slowey highlight reel from last season when he was pitching for the Twins:
Jeanmar Gomez scuttled back and forth between Columbus and Cleveland in 2011 and 2010. He went 10-7 with a 2.55 ERA for Columbus and 5-3 with a 4.47 ERA for the Indians in 2011. He’s still quite young (just turned 24 a couple weeks ago), so there’s room to grow. One thing that troubled me watching the highlight video below was a sense that his windup and delivery weren’t always consistent. I see it less in this video from AAA that’s all against one batter.
Then there’s David Huff, who has the advantage of being the only left-handed pitcher in the bunch. We have a bunch of lefties in the lineup, but none in the potential rotation. He’s struggled (I feel like that word comes up a lot when we talk about the Indians)–great 2009, annus horribilis in 2010, a slightly less horrible but by no means “good” 2011. Here’s Huff from one of his pair of wins last season:
And then there’s Zach McAllister. Frankly, I was underwhelmed when I watched him last season. Officially his record is 0-1. He started four games for us, three of which we lost. He’s the same age as Jeanmar Gomez, but I don’t see the same potential there. Here’s McAllister in his major league debut.
I’m looking forward to the beginning of Spring Training games to see how all these guys look this year. Right now, I’d give the edge to Slowey or Gomez only because they’re the two in whom I have the least doubt. (“Least doubt” is slightly below “most faith” but well above “Don’t we have anyone else?” in the Richter Scale of Trust in Professional Athletes.) What do you think? Who’s your Fifth Man?
End note: I mentioned to a friend that our big stupid black Lab pup had injured the growth plate in his knee and that the vet said the dog may actually be younger than we think. My friend Nick quipped: “So he’s the opposite of a Dominican pitcher.”