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Indians roster battles update: Part II (the pitchers)

With only two weeks left til the season starts, let's take a look at where the roster stands. Yesterday we started with the hitters, today it's the pitchers' turn.

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Yesterday we looked at which position players are likely to make the 25-man roster. Today we dive into the arms that are still fighting for a spot:

Fifth Starter

As of our last discussion, the competition was between Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, Trevor Bauer, and Shaun Marcum . As of today, I think we can remove two of those names. Marcum still hasn't seen game action, and I can't see him being ready or doing enough to prove he deserves the job by Opening Day. He's out, at least for now. The Indians have raved about Bauer's progress, but opposing hitters have been less impressed. A 10.29 ERA and 5 walks in 7 innings is not good. His velocity has been better, but considering his issues last year were heavily control-related, he is going to have to prove himself further in Triple-A before he gets to pitch at Progressive Field.

While Bauer's struggles and Marcum's health have removed them from serious consideration, a new contender entered the fray not long after my last look at this competition. Veteran right-hander Aaron Harang has thrown only 5 innings, but has looked good doing it. Harang is far removed from his 2005-2007 heyday, but he has been a solid if unspectacular arm for a while now, and cannot be entirely counted out. I think he's headed for Columbus though (he can opt out if he's not called up by June 1st).

There are two guys already on the 40-man roster who have pitched well this spring. Carrasco entered camp as the presumptive favorite, based on how highly the Indians spoke of him and his lack of options, and he has done well: 7 IP, 9 K, 1 BB, 6 H, 1 HR, 3 R, 1 ER. The unearned runs shouldn't be ignored, but he has the best ERA of any starter in camp other than Justin Masterson. Tomlin has been nearly as good (and in a larger sample): 14 IP, 14 K, 2 BB, 13 H, 2 HR, 4 R, 4 ER.

What do you do when you have two guys fighting for a spot and both are winning? You could take the guy with the better track record, but neither of these guys is great in that regard. You could take the guy with the bigger upside, and I think the nod has to go to Carrasco there. You could also take the guy who you penciled in a few weeks earlier, and that also seems to be Carrasco. I suppose there is a chance the Indians decide that Carrasco can be more useful out of the pen, but I have a feeling that won't be the case.

Today's best guess: Carlos Carrasco takes the fifth starter spot, with Tomlin the first to be called up, unless Bauer starts dominating AAA hitters.

You can find Ryan's best guesses on who makes the 25-man and 40-man rosters here, with an updated version of the handy chart he keeps updated throughout the season. He and I agree on most of it, but see a couple things differently.

The Bullpen

John Axford, Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Marc Rzepczynski, and Josh Outman have seemed like locks to me all along, and still do. I was also adamant earlier this spring that Vinnie Pestano was a lock, but relented in the face of concerns voiced in the comments. Well, he has only thrown 4 innings, but those innings included only two base runners. Barring injury, the 6th man making the Indians bullpen will be Pestano.

I previously expected C.C. Lee to grab a spot as well, but he has been far less impressive. He has 8 strikeouts in his 5 innings, but has walked 4 and given up a HR. Considering his youth and long-term potential, getting his control right in Columbus seems the more prudent path at this point. If he gets another few innings and avoids the walks, he could work his way back into the conversation, but I am not nearly as confident as I was.

In the meantime, Blake Wood may be stepping up to claim a spot. Something of the anti-Pestano (in that the commentors were all higher on him than I was), Wood has thrown six solid innings, keeping the walks relatively low and (2), the strike outs high (7), and avoiding the long ball. The Indians kept Wood around while he didn't pitch in 2012, and worked him up through the system in 2013. If they believe in him, and they certainly seem to, 2014 needs to be the year he gets a shot.

Based purely on Spring performance, the next guy on the list would likely be Scott Atchison (4 IP, 4 K, 1 BB, 1 ER). J.C. Ramirez has a matching 4:1 K:BB ration, but also has 4 runs (2 earned) to his name. Nick Hagadone has only given up 1 run in 4.2 IP, but his 3 walks are concerning. David Aardsma has surprised me by looking solid over 4 innings. He had a rough outing, but he has yet to issue a walk or a home run. Bryan Price and Austin Adams have both thrown well, but both have also been sent down already. Preston Guilmet and Scott Barnes have also kept their names in the discussion.

At the other end of the spectrum, Frank Herrmann, who I know many people would love to see make the roster, has thrown one inning, and it was a pretty bad one.

Today's best guess: Pestano and Wood are numbers 6 and 7. If Giambi is healthy, we stop there. If not, one more guy is going to make the cut and I have no idea yet who that will be. Forced to guess, I'd go with Atchison, but this could easily be any number of other players, depending what the coaching staff sees.