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MLB Cleveland Indians

Predicting the Cleveland Indians’ 2014 Starting Rotation

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Projection of Cleveland Indians' Starting Rotation for 2014

Cleveland Indians Starting Rotation
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Indians came into last year with the same questions as this season. How well will a young and unproven rotation do? Besides Danny Salazar, the rest of the group all played together last year. However, they were very inconsistent and there was never a true “ace” of the staff. Some fans will say that Justin Masterson was the ace of the staff while others will say possibly Corey Kluber or Salazar.

Except for very few games, the team won thanks to the entire pitching staff as a unit and not by one dominant performance. Ubaldo Jimenez never truly reached his potential in the trade from the Colorado Rockies. He had more downs than he did ups in his three years. He started pitching well during the middle of August into September, however, his time finally ran out. He is now a Baltimore Oriole. Zach McAllister couldn’t stay healthy, and even when he was, he let the game get to him mentally and became very hittable.

In some games he didn’t even last three innings. Scott Kazmir along with Kluber were two of the most consistent on the team. Kazmir came close to a no-hitter against the Orioles in June but had it broken up in the 7th inning. He was bound and determined to make a comeback in MLB, and he did. Unfortunately, he signed with the Oakland Athletics this offseason. Masterson will be considered the head of the staff this year, but can they all maintain consistency? Here is the projected starting rotation.

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1. Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into last year, it was not known whether Ubaldo Jimenez or Justin Masterson was the ace of this team. Well this year the pitching staff belongs to Masterson. He must maintain consistency and command dominance within himself. He went 14-10 with an ERA of 3.45 and was 8th in the AL in strikeouts with 195. That was one more than teammate Jimenez. Masterson had a lot of games won, but the hitting and defense never came through. But he also lost a lot of games from being erratic in starts. He must take that next step.

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2. Danny Salazar

Danny Salazar
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Besides Matt Harvey and Michael Wacha, Danny Salazar was one of the biggest surprises in MLB last year. He dominated in AAA Columbus with an ERA of 2.73 and 78 strikeouts. Salazar also went 4-2 in 14 games. He conquered the league by storm, showing fans he could hit triple digits with his fastball. And that was about it. Salazar is still developing his secondary stuff and must speed the process up to become a dependable No. 2 or possible future ace. He went 2-3 last year in only 10 games. He had 65 strikeouts with an ERA of 3.12.

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3. Corey Kluber

Corey Kluber
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Corey Kluber was one of the most consistent pitchers on the staff last year. He also had ice water in his veins. This was present when the Indians faced the Washington Nationals in June. On three different occasions, Kluber had the bases loaded and got out of the situation unscathed. He also maintains the same demeanor and emotionless approach to the game which has led to success. Kluber's two-seamer is one of the best in the league and should be even better this season.

He sometimes lets the game get to him mentally only to bounce right back with shutout baseball. Kluber went 11-5 with an ERA of 3.85 and 136 strikeouts.

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4. Zach McAllister

Zach McAllister
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Zach McAllister was one of the most inconsistent pitchers of the staff. His numbers don’t tell the story, but his performances were not good at all. It didn’t help that during every start the defense seemed to have fallen asleep. If McAllister didn’t locate his fastball, he became extremely hittable and didn’t last long. In numerous games he didn’t go past four innings, and he couldn’t stay healthy.

He missed most of June and July with a middle finger injury. This is now McAllister’s fourth season with the team. It is put up or shut up time. He was .500 with a 9-9 record. He had a 3.75 ERA along with 101 strikeouts.

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5. Aaron Harang

Aaron Harang
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Harang is one of the new additions to the Indians. He is a veteran who can add stability to the back end of the rotation if he is able to win the spot in spring training. Most Indian fans can remember back in 2007 when the Indians had that stability with Paul Byrd and Jake Westbrook. It made all the difference. However, Harang is coming off one of his worst years yet. He was 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA and 87 strikeouts with the Seattle Mariners. He then got waived, and signed with the New York Mets. In four games, he went 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA and just 26 strikeouts.