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.”

9 Comments

  • jigboy says:

    Just started reading your blog and its been a huge morale boost. Currently deployed to Afghanistan and a huge tribe fan. As for the 5th starter I’d agree with you. I like Slowey and Gomez as our 5th. If I remember correctly, Slowey was the Twins #3 pitcher in their rotation so hopefully he gets back to his bread and butter. Should help that he’s comfortable in all the parks in the AL central and out of Coors Field. A good season for him would be 13-11 with an ERA in the low 4s and a WHIP around 1.3. I’d take that from a #5 SP everyday of the week. As much as Carmona was good, he really sucked when he was off and we never had a chance in his bad games. I feel as though most of our SPs will give us at least a chance and not bury us under 7 runs in the first 2 innings.

  • Norm says:

    Sorry, haven’t been paying too much attention during the off-season, but why isn’t Carrasco in the conversation. I would easily take him over any of the others listed above.

  • Susan Petrone says:

    I like Carrasco too, but he had Tommy John surgery in September 2011 and isn’t scheduled to return until the 2013 season. Here’s hoping his recovery goes well.

  • Susan Petrone says:

    Jigboy, glad we could bring a bit of home to you. I’m willing to believe that Slowey’s 2011 was an aberration. As you said, if he can keep his ERA in the low 4s (dare we hope for the upper 3s) and win a dozen or so games for us, I’d be happy for him to be the #5 man. And I’m not counting Gomez out either. He’s slowly but consistently been improving (as you hope a young pitcher will). That counts for a lot. Bring on the spring training games.

  • Will McIlroy says:

    Jigboy, appreciate your service. A thankless but needed task.

    Agree, its should be Slowey or Gomez. Always liked Slowey with the Twins and he could be more than capable. Gomez pitched well late and should have more respect from the organization. He’s a 5-6 inning guy who probably doesn’t wear well a third or fourth time through the lineup but generally keeps us in the game.

    The same can not be said for Huff or McAllister. Fringe, AAAA guys.Keep in mind Barnes may be ready by mid season as well.

  • medfest says:

    I like the Tribe’s depth at starting pitching a lot.Most of the guys vying for spots have at some level of success(and failure) at the major league level.you can never have enough pitching that’s why a guy like Carmona/Hernandez (Carmandez?Hernona?) still has value.

    Jigboy ,keep your head down and your gun clean son!

  • jigboy says:

    Thanks for all the well wishes, means a lot!

    As for Slowey, I dug into his stats and I was caught a little of guard at how few innings he has pitched. His highest innings total per season was 160 innings and it looks like he has a k ratio of about .7 per inning pitched. Not great but not bad. I am a little concerned with his durability as well as his high BAA. His career BAA is .285 over 532 innings pitched so the sample size is more than enough. With that being said he reminds me a lot of Jeremy Sowers. Pitches to contact but doesnt have overwhelming stuff. If he’s hitting his spots we should be good as our D will back him up. However, with a high 80′s, low 90′s fastball and average stuff his BABIP could soar. Hopefully he mimics Sowers good year.

  • SeattleStu says:

    now chubby chris perez has hurt himself, endangering his status for opening day….we are cursed….on the plus side, his heart attack saves wont torment me in april…..

  • Norm says:

    Yeah, I remembered as soon as I read about the Carrasco injury. Any chance of signing someone not currently on the roster (Roy Oswalt)?