The Cleveland Indians enter Spring Training with a new manager and a number of key players at new spots. We begin with our Spring Training preview with a look at the prospective starting rotation:
The locks to make the rotation: Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brett Myers, Zach McAllister
Rotation hopefuls: Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Scott Kazmir, Cory Kluber, David Huff
Any hope of playoff contention depends on Masterson regaining his 2011 form and Jimenez providing production between his 2010 and 2011 levels. The Indians need a stopper in the rotation between these two as the rest of the starters are more inning-eater types.
Myers will be the third starter and will need to overcome a decrease in velocity and a change to a tougher league to earn his $7 million pay cheque.
McAllister earned a rotation start after a solid start to his MLB career with 22 starts in 2012 and a FIP of 4.24. He needs to continue to mature and pitch better with runners on base to take the next step to a league-average starter.
It will be interesting if the Indians let Bauer start the year in AAA for a month or two for service time reasons. If it was up to me, as long as Bauer shows the right attitude and looks like he could handle MLB hitters right away then he should make the team. If not then he will likely be the first call in case of an injury.
Carrasco missed all of 2012 with Tommy John surgery. He will probably be on an innings limit in 2013 but hopefully will regain his control and his stuff comes back quickly. He did have flashes of brilliance in 2012 and the Indians are hoping that he has matured when it comes to allowing runners on base and avoiding giving up runs in bunches as he has tended to do in his minor league career. I expect him to start for a month or two in AAA so that he regains his pre-injury control.
Kazmir pitched in an independent league last year and is probably headed to a spot in the bullpen but he is a depth option that is low risk but high reward.
Kluber and Huff both had good and bad starts at the MLB level in 2012. I think Kluber has a better shot of sticking but both could end up in a MLB bullpen in the next couple of years.
What do you think the starting rotation will be for 2013? Let us know in the comments below.