To the extent that these earliest games of spring matter, it's in beginning to sort through the starting rotation options. Terry Francona has said Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Gavin Floyd have spots pretty well wrapped up, leaving Danny Salazar, T.J. House, Zach McAllister, and Josh Tomlin vying for the final spot.
This afternoon's Cactus League contest between the Tribe and Reds featured Tomlin and House for two innings apiece. Tomlin was up first, and... is there a way I can put this nicely??? ...Things didn't start off as well as he would have liked.
The first hitter he faced was Billy Hamilton, who promptly put one twenty feet over the fence. Hamilton is known for his elite power though, so there's no shame in him taking you deep. What's that you say? Hamilton is known for his elite speed, not power? You say he's never hit more than 6 home runs in a season? Oh.
The next three batters all hit the ball pretty hard too, leading to another run scoring. Tomlin didn't walk anyone, but then he rarely does. His trouble is giving up too many hard hit balls, and that's what we saw today. On the one hand, it's two innings, and his first two innings of the Cactus League season. On the other hand, he's probably starting the race for the rotation in 8th place, so he doesn't have much margin for error.
House was a different story. He faced six batters and retired them all, two by strikeout. The fact that he has options remaining means he's got an uphill battle for that fifth spot, but short of bringing flowers and saying nice things about Francona's golf game, T.J. could hardly have made a better impression this afternoon.
The other four Tribe pitchers all worked without giving up any runs. The most likely of the bunch to see significant time with the Indians this year was C.C. Lee, who pitched a 1-2-3 5th inning.
Among the position players, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Moncrief, two of LGT's most popular prospect crushes, were the day's standouts. Lindor picked up a couple singles and also made a very nice leaping grab on a line drive. Moncrief went 4 for 4, which you almost never see this early in spring, if for no other reason than players are rarely in the game long enough to get four at bats. Moncrief also made an aggressive move on a ball in the dirt in the 8th inning, put himself in position to score the go-ahead run, which he did.
The fear of a winless spring campaign is dead. Thank you T.J., Francisco, and Carlos.