The Cleveland Indians hung twelve runs around the necks of the Seattle Mariners this afternoon and removed the albatross of April from its own. The club improved to 14-10 on the season and erased some ugly memories of early seasons past.
Last April, the Indians struggled to find fly balls in the sun.
Today, our friendly neighborhood G-Class Dwarf star broke from heel to hero and delivered the Indians a fourth out in the third inning.
The scorer awarded Abraham Almonte a triple for the hit; the mishap itself delivered six runs to the Indians, as the next five batters all reached base, culminating in a Michael Brantley home run. While the Indians didn’t hold the resulting eight run lead for the rest of the game, they eventually won by the same margin, 12-4.
The Mariners’ scheduled rest day is tomorrow. Against the Indians in the final game of its ten game road trip today, it appeared that the Mariners decided to tack on an extra day of rest, particularly in that third. We’ll return to that inning, which featured several strange plays. For now, I’d like to discuss:
Josh is never going to win a Cy Young award. He’ll never be the ace of a staff, a master of guile, or a flamethrower. I believe these truths to be self-evident, but a cursory glance at twitter suggests that some expect 200 innings with a 3.63 ERA out of the four/five-slot in a rotation.
Here’s the reality: in 2015 according to Eno Sarris, the average fifth starter in baseball (the most prolific one, anyway; this spot can become a bit of a carousel for some teams) pitched 97 innings. Hardball Times states that in 2015, the fifth most-used pitcher on a team started 16.8 times on average. Acta Sports suggests that playoff teams should expect, on average, to have a .500 record at the back of the rotation with an ERA around 5.00... in the year 2004, when the only super-wizard consistently rolling 20s on the “nastiness” die was Mariano Rivera. Pitchers went deeper into games, and the average fifth starter made more starts. Still — all you needed was .500 from the worst starter on your team in order to make the playoffs.
Last season, Josh Tomlin went 13-9 with a 4.40 ERA in 174 innings. He made 29 starts.
Is he off to a rough start this season? Yes. Is that his fault? Not at all. Excluding today’s game, Tomlin’s BABIP is .412, up from a career average of .280. That’s going to equalize. And you know what? After today, he’s sitting at 2-3 in five starts, and we know that he’s capable of pitching better, and luckier.
I understand that Bauer is “technically” the fifth start at the moment, but if we’re honest with ourselves we know what the talent pecking order is, as well as the expected number of total innings from each pitcher this season.
If anything, Tomlin’s greatest limiting factor is that hitters have him figured out by the fifth or sixth inning. We saw this again today when he surrendered four consecutive hits to the Mariners.
On the complete flipside, if Tomlin threw left-handed and always against the Indians, he would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
I would now like to transition back to:
The 3rd Inning
If you didn’t watch the game today, you owe it to yourself to watch the highlights from this inning. Just look at the ESPN scoring blotter of the thing:
Here are my takeaways:
- Michael Brantley tallied two hits, one of which was a dinger.
- Jason Kipnis notched his first RBI and SB on the season.
- Robert Perez reached on an infield single.
- “Chisenhall hit sacrifice fly to second, Ramirez scored.”
There’s an entire post about that play going up tomorrow, but I can’t in good conscience write this recap without including that highlight.
José Ramírez hustles to home plate to score for the Indians!!! pic.twitter.com/rbRrwg5mwU— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) April 30, 2017
So, consider that slide, and then the following set of statistics.
Jose Ramirez-— Steve Takacs (@Stevie_Wonder35) April 30, 2017
.341/.388/.997 21 RBI 6 HR
.290/.396/.891 13 RBI 3 HR
.232/.333/.772 13 RBI 4 HR
The inning is bolstered, of course, by the missed catch in right field, but the Ramirez tag-up is what set everything in motion. After he scored, the next six hitters all reached base, producing six runs. Should we be upset that Encarnacion isn’t content to strike out twice in one game, and is now doing so twice in the same inning? Eh. I’m not there yet.
The Indians put together another solid inning in the seventh, again benefitting from a Mariner’s mishap. Kipnis reached on an error, then three consecutive hits plated three runs and erased the miniature comeback the Mariners had mounted.
Other items of note
- Francisco Lindor hit his seventh home run. He leads all shortstops in baseball. Last year, he hit fifteen. At his current pace, Lindor would hit more than 40 home runs. Hold me.
- Michael Brantley is Michael Brantley.
- Brandon Guyer pinch-hit and slapped a single; let’s hope it drags him out of his current slump. We expected some regression, but not all the way back to Pony Ball.
- With a 14-10 record the Indians are off it’s best start since 2011, when the team went 18-8 in April.
The Indians are off tomorrow, and then Pyrokinesis is a better schedule reader than I am, and the Indians begin a ten day trek across the country on Tuesday tomorrow to face the Tigers, Royals, and Blue Jays. After that, they return to face the Twins on May 12th, 13th, and 14th at home for Mother’s Day weekend. What mother wouldn’t want to see unruly twins put in their place that weekend?