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Forecasting the Cleveland Indians rotation

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With an off-day on Monday and a doubleheader the following Saturday, the Indians could go any number of ways with their rotation.

Cleveland Indians v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The only positive spin you can put on the performance of this team is that the rest of the division has been just as bad. If the Houston Astros were in the AL Central, the Indians would essentially be out of the divisional race, instead pinning their playoff hopes to making the Wild Card game. But thankfully the Astros are the AL West’s problem, and as bad as this team has played, they still have a good chance of being one of the four teams who make it to the ALDS.

I think the Indians are going to be looking to trade for a starting pitcher over the next six weeks. Kluber and Carrasco are the only two pitchers on the roster with a consistent body of work in 2017. I think that Josh Tomlin will be fine, as far as what you’d want out of a fourth/fifth starter, but the other two spots are not fine at all, with lots of short and ineffective starts from the two remaining spots. The bullpen has covered up for some of those short starts, but you can’t expect the bullpen to pitch three to four innings a night and not have it take its toll in August and September, especially with some long stretches of consecutive games coming up. If the Indians can acquire someone to slot behind Kluber and Carrasco, you can fill that final spot with whoever among the Salazar/Bauer/Clevinger troika is pitching better.

The offense is also a concern. Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis are having sub-par years, and Edwin Encarnacion is still recovering from an awful start to his season. But in this case the Indians have to rely on those player’s histories to win out over their present performance.

The rotation

Danny Salazar was placed on the 10-day Disabled List this week to make room for Lonnie Chisenhall, but I don’t think there’s any concern that he’ll miss more than the minimum 10 days. He’s going to pitch in Akron, building himself back up to rejoin the rotation. The Indians will play a doubleheader in Minnesota on June 17th, and I’d expect Salazar to pitch one of those games or join the rotation because of the doubleheader. Mike Clevinger was optioned to the minors to make room for another reliever, but the Indians won’t need a 5th starter until that doubleheader, and he’ll be eligible for recall by that time.

Here’s the known rotation for the next series:

Friday June 9: Corey Kluber

Saturday June 10: Josh Tomlin

Sunday June 11: Carlos Carrasco

Monday June 12: Off

Assuming that Danny Salazar will be ready to go by next Saturday, here’s how I think the rotation will work out over the following two series:

Tuesday June 13: Trevor Bauer

Wednesday June 14: Corey Kluber

Thursday June 15: Josh Tomlin

Friday June 16: Carlos Carrasco

Saturday June 17 (DH): Danny Salazar and Mike Clevinger

Sunday June 18: Trevor Bauer

If both Salazar and Clevinger pitch on the same day, that would give the Indians the opportunity to keep whoever pitched better in the rotation when that spot came around again. If you’re wondering how the Indians would make room for both pitchers, one could be added via the 26th man (which is available for scheduled doubleheaders), with the other taking the place of Kyle Crockett (or whoever the 8th reliever is by then).

Salazar would be eligible to return earlier than the 17th, so he could pitch the 15th or the 16th if needed. When he next pitches in Akron should tell us when the Indians expect him to make his next start in Cleveland. Clevinger would not be eligible to return to the Indians until the 17th.

Transactions

June 6

Placed RHP Danny Salazar on the 10-day Disabled List, retro to June 4 (shoulder soreness)

Reinstated OF Lonnie Chisenhall from the 10-day Disabled List

June 7

Recalled LHP Kyle Crockett from Columbus (AAA)

Optioned RHP Mike Clevinger to Columbus (AAA)

Latest 40-man roster

June 8 2017