There is no question the six game losing streak on the west coast trek for the Cleveland Indians turned a so-so month of April into a disappointing one. The Tribe left Cleveland at 11-11, a .500 record, and they returned home 11-17, and in last place.
More concerning to the media and the fans is the sloppy play of Terry Francona’s bunch. Using two of the major defensive statistics available, the Indians rank last in the American League in defense. They’ve made the most errors and they have the worst defensive efficiency.
Thank goodness Cleveland pitchers rank third in the league in strikeouts. The less balls put into play, the better.
Sometimes, the errors don’t allow runs to score, but they make pitchers have to throw more pitches. This was never more evident than Friday night, when Elliott Johnson’s error in the fourth inning made Danny Salazar throw at least 15 more tosses to home plate. Otherwise, Francona could’ve squeezed another inning out of the starter.
Along with the poor play, the front office has made some curious moves thus far, and we aren’t talking about having Carlos Carrasco start the season in the rotation, we could understand the reasoning for that.
Two of these strange moves were made yesterday. The Indians announced Josh Tomlin would start on Tuesday against Minnesota. While Tomlin deserves to be back with the big club (2-1, 2.06 ERA), he’s not the Columbus starter with the best statistics.
That would be Trevor Bauer, who owns a 3-0 record with a 1.10 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 32-2/3 innings.
Why not reward Bauer for his outstanding pitching, plus his presence in the rotation would send some excitement to both a fan base and perhaps a clubhouse that appears to need a jolt.
Look, this is not to say make the move for the fans. Bauer’s performance merits a promotion. He’s pitching well, his confidence should be at an all time high, and he’s got the look of a potential ace.
With all due respect to Tomlin, we know what he is. He’s no better than a third starter, a guy who won’t be spectacular, but will keep you in games. And we’ve advocated bringing up the right-hander when he was the only starter having success in AAA when he came up in 2010.
The other puzzling move was bringing up reliever Nick Hagadone to provide an extra arm in the bullpen until Tomlin gets the call on Tuesday. (Hagadone was sent back today to make room for Nyjer Morgan, needed because of Michael Bourn’s hamstring problems).
Really, there wasn’t anyone on the 40-man roster they could’ve brought up other than a hard throwing lefty, who can’t find home plate?
Wouldn’t you rather give a guy like Austin Adams a shot? Or bring Vinnie Pestano up for a few days?
Hagadone has an electric arm, but he’s never demonstrated an ability to throw strikes consistently. Why does the front office continually reward him with major league time? That said, it’s a moot point now, and again, he would’ve been sent out on Tuesday anyway.
With Bourn day-to-day, the Indians have another problem. With Francona’s preference for carrying 13 pitchers, the Tribe can’t have a roster spot for a player who may be out several days. They almost have to put that player on the disabled list. That’s why it wouldn’t be a surprise if Bourn has to go back on the DL when Tomlin comes up in a few days.
For now, what the Indians need most is to tighten up their defense and win some ball games. The season is more than 1/6th through. You can’t use the “it’s early” excuse much longer.