The unpopular decision to call up right-handed starter Josh Tomlin instead of Trevor Bauer came with a lot of debate over the Cleveland Indians’ thought process. On paper Bauer seems to be the standout ready for succeeding the impended demotion of Carlos Carrasco, and from a distance the Tribe front office was making a patient and well calculated assessment. Just one game into a change to the pitching staff, people are beginning to see the Indians’ vision, myself included.
Tomlin’s first five starts have totaled eight earned runs and 28 strikeouts in 35 frames with class AAA Columbus Clippers. These numbers are in the ballpark with Bauer’s impressive start in both levels atop the Indians organization. In reality, the only way Bauer would earn a spot this early was if Tomlin relapsed. It may have just been 6.2 innings of work, but Tomlin stayed the course striking out four in 93 pitches (66 strikes). The 29-year-old made only one major mistake in letting up a solo shot which never threatened Cleveland to that point. Tomlin didn’t do anything special, but he threw a ton of strikes on the way to an efficient start.
To people’s displeasure, Carrasco is not done from being considered as a starting pitcher candidate. Manager Terry Francona is taken with the upside Carrasco brings sporting a live major league arm while lacking the a consistent approach to keep pitches out of harm’s way. Carrasco’s position swap is yet another audition for the right-hander to prove his ceiling wasn’t hype.
After sitting out a full year to wait out the aftermath of Tommy John surgery, Tomlin has restructured some subtle movements en route to reexamining his game. Who is to say he can’t become a version of last season’s Scott Kazmir keeping pace with an ERA just above 4.00? Discoveries such as the ones the Indians are fantasizing about could enlighten the Tribe’s front office to how desperate they would be without Justin Masterson.
At 23 years old, Bauer has time before being thrown into the big leagues. With five of six first rounders from 2005-2010 out of the Cleveland organization, the Indians who finally have depth should learn from their past trial and errors with highly treasured prospects and wait. The Indians are fortunate to have an experienced arm to toss into the final rotation spot.