You could make a pretty good argument that Zach McAllister is already the Cleveland Indians‘ best starting pitcher.
At least, he’s the team’s best starter who is competing for a job this spring.
That’s position that McAllister currently finds himself in, despite having made 22 starts in his rookie season with the Indians in 2012 and leading the team in ERA (4.24), WHIP (1.36), and K/9 (7.9).
The Indians are hoping that those numbers won’t be good enough to lead the team this season, and have brought in rebound candidates like Daisuke Matsuzaka and Scott Kazmir, along with top prospect Trevor Bauer, to compete with players like McAllister and Carlos Carrasco.
Meanwhile, Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez will have all-but-guaranteed jobs, despite each coming off disappointing seasons.
Such is life for newcomers, I suppose.
McAllister has an inside track on a spot in the rotation right now, but the team wants to see if he can replicate his success from last season. If the 25-year old can continue to pitch like he did in his first Spring outing, that inside track might just turn into a guarantee pretty soon.
The 25-year old righty got the start in Sunday’s Cactus League game against the Cincinnati Reds, and was nearly perfect over his two innings of work, setting the scene for what ended up being a one-hit shutout by the Tribe. McAllister faced a split Reds squad consisting mostly of the team’s regular season starters, and struck out speed demon Billy Hamilton and Brandon Phillips to start his day.
The Indians sophomore did not give up a hit in his outing, with the only blemish being a two-out walk to perennial All-Star candidate Joey Votto.
He looked very good against one of the best offenses in the NL, but considering that Matsuzaka followed McAllister with a very good outing of his own, the race for the final spots in the Indians rotation is not close to being decided yet.
That said, McAllister already started with an advantage, and Sunday’s start went a long way in extending it.