Josh Tomlin Could Be The 5th Starter Cleveland Indians Need

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After watching starter Carlos Carrasco struggle through four starts to begin the 2014 campaign, the Cleveland Indians made the right move, and it paid off Tuesday night against the Minnesota Twins.

The team gave the ball to Josh Tomlin, who pushed Carrasco all the way to the end of Spring Training before being told he was going to start the season in Triple-A Columbus. Tomlin handled the move with class, and finally got the call. He didn’t disappoint, going 6.2 solid innings in the Indians’ 4-2 win over Minnesota.

“I definitely had some anxiety going before the game, but good anxiety, the same anxiety I’ve gotten in years past,” Tomlin said after the win.  “To go out there and pitch well late in the game it was pretty special for me.”

The patience of Tomlin, who won his first game since July 5 of 2012, should be applauded. He worked his way back off Tommy John surgery late in the 2012 season and had really good velocity in the win, being able to use his slider and curveball early and often against the overmatched Twins.

“You put in the hard work when you come back and there’s never any guarantees that your going to come back, around the league there’s been a couple of guys that need a second surgery before they can come back,” Tomlin said.  “That’s always in the back of your mind, so to be able to come out here and not have any kind of reservations about the elbow was pretty special.”

The start was pretty key to the Indians as well; with a healthy and motivated Tomlin in the rotation, the team got a boost that wasn’t there with the sporadic outings from Carrasco, who simply couldn’t be counted on for more than 3-4 innings in any given start.

If the Indians can get anywhere near the type of season from Tomlin like he had in 2011 when he went 12-7 with a 4.25 ERA, it will make the end of the rotation that much better. The Indians’ rotation can finally settle down now that Tomlin has passed that very first important test. He’s never going to blow teams away with strikeouts and power pitches, but his stuff can be very deceiving as it was Tuesday, and can take away the worry that Carrasco gave the team when he was sitting in the fifth spot in the rotation.

For now, Tomlin has passed all the necessary tests to prove he’s back where he belongs, and that’s in a rotation that is that much stronger with him healthy.

Matt Loede has covered the Cleveland Indians for 20 years for National Networks like AP Radio, Metro Networks and other local and national stations. Follow him on twitter @mattloede.

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