The Cleveland Indians have been patient in waiting for starter Zach McAllister to return to the form that got him off to a 3-0 start in 2014. That patience seems to have finally run its course. Wednesday in a noon game at Progressive Field, McAllister hit what appears to be rock bottom, going just two innings during the Indians’ battle with the Detroit Tigers.
McAllister was coming off an outing against the Oakland A’s in which he went just 1.1 innings, and in one frame gave up eight runs on five hits, walking three. It was the shortest outing of his career, and it appeared that it couldn’t get much worse. That is until five days later against the Tigers.
He had no command of his fastball from the first pitch of the game, and Detroit jumped on him, pushing across four runs in the first inning, and while the Indians rallied to make it a game in the eventual 11-10 Indians 13-inning win, the Tribe pen had to throw 30 outs while McAllister was on the bench after giving up five runs on two hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
He left after just 59 pitches, which put a huge strain on the Indians’ pen, as they had to come up with 21 outs in seven innings. On the day, the team had to run out six relief pitchers, and they gave up a total of four runs, three earned, in the loss. It’s too much for any pen to be asked to do, more so against one of the best teams in baseball.
The solution for Terry Francona is simple, find a way to skip at least one start for McAllister, who started the year at 3-0 and now boasts an ERA of 5.89, or find an injury to place him on the DL and give Carlos Carrasco another crack at a start. The team plays seven straight on the road after today, and will need to come up with a starter Monday against the Chicago White Sox.
If they find a way to put McAllister on the DL, they could bring up Danny Salazar again, or even give prospect T.J. House a start. No matter how you look at it, the depth of the Indians’ pitching staff is going to be tested. It’s all in part to McAllister, who seems rattled in everything he does, and his confidence right now appears to be at a low, and the team needs to find a way to get him right again.
That appears easier said than done for an Indians team that already has changed two-fifths of its starting rotation less than 50 games into the regular season.