In this article I’m going to piggyback off of Susan’s article, “Pondering life’s persistent questions”, and take a closer look at all the candidates the Tribe currently has for the 5th spot in their rotation:

Trevor Bauer- Without a doubt, Trevor Bauer has the most potential out of any of his competitors right now.  Last year in the minors, Bauer had an 11.17 K/9 ratio in AA and then a 10.65 K/9 ratio in Triple-A before he was promoted to the Majors.  Normal pitchers simply don’t put up those kinds of numbers, even in the minor leagues.  When he was called up to the big leagues at the end of the season, he still put up an extremely impressive 9.37 K/9 ratio.  However, Bauer’s biggest problem is his command as he allowed more than 4 BB/9 on average in the minors last year, which is below average at any level.  He has an unorthodox delivery which means that he likely has some work to do with his mechanics to cut down on his walks.  The Indians have also said that they are open on sending him to Triple-A to start the season.  However, if Bauer comes into spring training and shows improvement with his command, then I predict he will win the last spot in the rotation.  It would simply be too much upside to turn down otherwise.

Carlos Carrasco- Personally, I think Carlos Carrasco is the most intriguing candidate for the rotation, and frankly, one of the more interesting players to follow this Spring Training.  In 2011, Carrasco held his own during his first real season in the big leagues before it ended in August of 2011 due to injury.  After having Tommy John surgery and missing all of 2012, Carrasco should be at full health going into Spring Training.  In 2011, his average fastball was about 92.6 MPH, which was definitely respectable.  However, there have been reports of increased velocity for Carrasco after his surgery, which makes him all the more intriguing.  Coming into camp, I actually think he has the best odds out of all candidates to win the final spot, as he is the only one who has had legitimate success at the Major League level in the past couple of seasons.

David Huff- I think it’s fair to say the Tribe fans have seen all that David Huff has to offer over the course of the past four seasons.  Unfortunately for Huff, it’s nothing to get excited about.  Huff has bounced around from the Tribe to Triple-A a lot over the past four seasons, and he has never really been able to contribute a whole lot (despite being given opportunities).  Last season in Triple-A he went 7-6 with a 4.97 ERA.  Those aren’t great numbers for an MLB pitcher, let alone Triple-A.  Huff has the worst odds of making the rotation out of spring training, and really the only chance he has to make the big-league club would be as a long reliever/mop-up man.

Scott Kazmir- Even though his last good season in the MLB was in 2008, the Tribe decided to roll the dice on Kazmir to get a potential low-risk, high-reward type deal out of him.  In winter ball this year, Kazmir struck out 27 in 22.2 IP.  Not that one should ever judge a player based on what he does in winter ball, but this shows that Kazmir might have something left in the tank at the very least.  The Indians liked where is velocity was at, and they are quite frankly hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with Kazmir.  Everyone from the fans, to the Indians organization, to probably Kazmir himself, knows that it’s a long shot for him to make the rotation out of Spring Training, but hey, crazier things have definitely happened.  He should provide the Tribe some pitching depth at the very least.

Corey Kluber- I’m placing Kluber behind both Bauer and Carrasco on the totem pole to make the starting rotation out of Spring Training.  That being said, there are still question marks surrounding both Bauer and Carrasco, so Kluber still has a legitimate chance of winning the 5th spot in the rotation.  He was inconsistent in his 12 starts with the Tribe last season with a record of 2-5 and an ERA of 5.14.  He definitely has good stuff as he struck out 128 in 125.1 IP in Triple-A before being called up.  However, what concerns me about Kluber is that his career performance in the minor leagues over the past few seasons has never been anything special.  His lowest career WHIP in the minor leagues is 1.34 and that came back in 2008.  If he was never dominant in the minors, he certainly is not going to be anything special in the big leagues either.  Without a doubt Bauer and Carrasco should have a leg up on him.

Daisuke Matsuzaka- I’ll be totally honest here…I really can’t think of any way to properly analyze what Daisuke brings to the table.  He hasn’t been successful in the MLB in a few years and his past couple seasons have been severely shortened by injury issues.  He struggled mightily last year with the Red Sox with a 1-7 record and an ERA of 8.28 in 11 starts.  However, that was after he looked somewhat like his former self during rehab in Triple-A last season with a 3.32 ERA, .228 BAA, and 1.17 WHIP in 13 starts before being called up last season.  Obviously the risk was minimal for the Tribe when they signed Daisuke, but maybe a change of pace/scenery will help him.  Remember, the Indians don’t need him to him to be the international sensation that he was when he first broke in with the Red Sox.  They would happily accept him as a solid number 4 or 5 guy if he can prove he is worthy.  However, he is without a doubt the most unpredictable of all candidates.

Though it’s up for much debate, here is my order from best odds to worst odds on who will take the final rotation spot:

1. Carrasco

2. Bauer

3. Kluber

4. Matsuzaka

5. Kazmir

6. Huff


  • thirdsaint says:

    Last season when our rotation was abysmal I had forgotten all about Carlos Carrasco. I seem to remember he had some control issues but I hope either he or Bauer can make the final cut with their control in line. That would easily be the best case scenario.

  • Chris Burnham says:

    Carrasco is also my pick, but I don’t think he’s going to make the club unless he has a monster spring. In my opinion, the rotation will look something like this: Masterson, Jimenez (he’s not deserving of the two-spot, but he’s getting it anyway), McAllister, Myers, Kazmir, Bauer.

    If anything, I feel they have a little bit better depth than they had in recent years, so it should be an interesting competition for, essentially, two spots.

  • Steve Alex says:

    I don’t even think it’s that close. Carrasco is throwing 96-97 MPH and had all winter to pitch himself back into game shape. I would put him at #4 ahead of McAllister. I also think there is a very strong chance the team will sign Kyle Lohse, either to keep him or to trade him to another team. The disparity in draft pick compensation between what the Indians would give up and any other signing team gives the Indians a huge advantage that may be too good to pass up and won’t come again soon.

  • DaveR says:

    Huff didn’t look terrible with the club last season except for the last game. I could see him in long relief or mop up if they actually had a need there. Overall at 28 he is in his prime so we’ve seen his best.

    I am really hoping Kaz/DiceK comes back from the dead or Carrasco shows enough. I really hope they don’t start with Bauer. He needs some seasoning. His K rate and K/IP is high but that translates to his Pitch count being high. Last year it was 20 P/IP. 21 + never pitched full season + mediocre ball club is not a good recipe. Call me super conservative.

    • Drew says:

      Great point about Bauer throwing a lot of pitches.

      Really, this shouldn’t be named, “An In-Depth Look at the Candidate for the last rotation spot” but rather the 3rd rotation spot. Zach McAllister is the 4th; Ubaldo Jimenez is the 5th starter.

    • Ryan Pinheiro says:

      Yeah definitely a good point about Bauer and his pitch count. However, if and when he improves upon his command, the pitch count will automatically go down. It’s just a matter of when he’s going to make that improvement.

  • Tim says:

    Would really like to see both Bauer and Carrasco spend at least two to three months at AAA and DiceK and maybe Kazmir take 4th and 5th spot. That would give Carrasco time to reestablish himself and Bauer to get better control! That also would give McAllister more time to become more consistent.

  • medfest says:

    Good analysis.

    I believe both Bauer and Carrasco will begin the season at AAA.In Bauers case,they won’t bring up until he’s past the Super Two deadline.Carrasco needs to get back into the grind of being in a rotation after missing so much time,he will be the first call up when someone in the rotation falters.

    That being said, I think Kluber has a leg up on the fifth spot since they have a baseline to compare him to.Kazmir and Diced-K will get good shots to to make the rotation,but they will have to be impressive most every time out.Kazmir could still make the team in the bullpen given the Tribe’s dearth of lefties.

  • Rick says:

    Would not be very patient with Ubaldo this year. Too much invested now to work out his problems in the rotation. Vast improvement needed.

1 Trackback or Pingback