The Cleveland Indians twitter account announced this afternoon that Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin will round out the starting rotation to begin the season. As a result, Trevor Bauer shifts to bullpen duties.
Anderson's ascension should not come as a surprise to those watching Spring Training closely. His fastball clocked at an average speed of 93.3 mph last season, but early reports from Goodyear suggested that offseason workouts helped him add velocity. In one game this spring at a park installed with PITCH F/X, his fastball averaged 96.4 mph according to Fangraphs. If Anderson improves on his debut last season, the Tribe will officially have an embarrassment of riches in their pitching staff. He went 7-3 with a 3.05 ERA in 15 starts, and won AL Player of the Month in September.
Tomlin's time with the Indians has been more difficult to analyze. He pitched well in 2011, posting a 12-7 record while allowing the fewest walks per nine innings in all of baseball. Unfortunately an injury to his elbow in July of 2012 required Tommy John surgery. Tomlin did not return until September of 2013, tallying only two innings. Since then, it's been an uphill battle to secure starts in the crowded Indians system. His control is still elite; in 26 starts and 169.2 innings since 2014, he surrendered only 22 walks.
Despite flashing good velocity and movement on his pitches, Bauer struggles with control. Since 2014 he has allowed 139 walks in 329 innings, and allowed the most in the American league last season. Moving a struggling starter to the bullpen is not unprecedented for the Indians; Carlos Carrasco did just that in 2014 after suffering similar issues on the mound. Upon returning to the starting rotation, Carrasco became one of the most dominant pitchers in the American League, leading some to wonder whether he or Kluber is the true ace of the staff. If Bauer uses his reassignment as an opportunity to focus on his consistency, he might reap similar rewards.
The most important takeaway is this: the Indians still boast one of the strongest starting rotations in baseball, and today's roster moves are not due to a lack of talent, but an abundance.