The Cleveland Indians have announced their starting rotation, which will consist of Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger, Carlos Carrasco, Aaron Civale, and Zach Plesac. The odd man out is Adam Plutko, who will start the season in the bullpen.
With Corey Kluber being traded to Texas in the offseason, Bieber, Clevinger, and Carrasco were the only sure things entering 2020. That left two spots up for grabs.
Plutko, who is out of minor league options, has been in and out of the rotation for the last two seasons, riding up and down I-71 as needed. His numbers have never been very impressive and last season was no exception, when he finished with a 4.86/5.23/5.54 ERA/FIP/xFIP line. But our own Chris Davies made the case for keeping him in the rotation, championing Plutko as a known quantity who could hold down the fort while Civale or Plesac continues to develop.
But the Indians have placed their bets on Civale and Plesac, both of whom are 25 years old and made their big league debut in 2019. LGT’s Matt Schlichting was effusive in his praise for Civale at the end of last year, touting him as having provided the greatest impact of all the rookie arms that the Tribe relied on during the season. He pitched 57.2 innings, sported a 2.34 ERA, and struck out 20.3% of the batters he faced while walking 7.1%.
Plesac made his final case for a rotation spot on Saturday, recording six strikeouts and allowing six hits and two runs over five innings pitched against the Pirates in an exhibition matchup. He is coming off a season in which he delivered a solid if unspectacular 3.81 ERA over 115 innings of work. With only 88 strikeouts to his name and a 1.23 WHIP, there is concern that he’ll regress in some way. But we won’t have to wait long to find out.