The major league baseball trading deadline will be here a week from today, and most of the American League playoff contenders have made moves.
Oakland, Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York have all tried to strengthen their clubs heading into the stretch run. The Indians have not made a move yet, even though it appears they desperately need to do so.
Does the Tribe need a quality hitter, a starting pitcher, or some more help in the bullpen?
Certainly, the offense is inconsistent to be sure, but Cleveland still ranks 5th in the league in runs scored, so even though it can be maddening to watch the Indians’ hitters being baffled by the likes of Minnesota’s Anthony Swarzak, they do have games where they put up enough runs to win.
To us, the biggest problem Terry Francona has is getting enough innings out of his starting pitchers on a night to night basis, particularly when that night’s starter is not named Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. Since the all-star break, here are the number of innings Tribe starters have pitched:
Bauer vs. DET 6 IP
Kluber vs. DET 8-2/3 IP
McAllister vs. DET 5-1/3 IP
Tomlin vs. DET 4-1/3 IP
House vs. MIN 5 IP
Salazar vs. MIN 5 IP
Bauer vs. MIN 6 IP
The lack of length provided by the starters means Francona has to go to an already overworked bullpen and lean on them heavily every night. Eventually, you have to think that will come back to bite the Indians.
This isn’t something new, either. It has pretty much been this way since the beginning of the season, and it is a tribute to the skipper and Mickey Callaway that they have managed to keep the relief corps performing at a high level all season.
It would be another thing if the McAllisters, Salazars, Houses, and Tomlins were providing these short outings allowing either zero or one run, but they aren’t.
Tomlin has now been mediocre in seven or his last eight starts, the exception being his one-hit masterpiece against the Mariners at the end of June. Every other start is basically around five innings, allowing around four runs, with of course, an obligatory long ball allowing in the mix.
House is also below average at this point in his career, he can give you five or six frames, pitching in and out of trouble usually, but allows around three or four tallies.
Salazar needs to show better than in his last start, where the Tribe gave him a 3-0 lead early, only to watch him load the bases with walks right after getting the lead. He did escape unscathed, but the number of pitches made in that inning forced him out after five innings.
Yes, this group is capable of going out there and throwing seven quality innings every once in a while.
That’s the point, once in a while isn’t good enough. If GM Chris Antonetti can’t find someone who can be closer to Kluber and Bauer, and can be counted on to get deeper into the game soon, it doesn’t look like the Indians can stay in the race for the long haul.
And spare us the “what if Justin Masterson comes back” scenario as well. That’s a hope, but the front office simply cannot count on that happening.
The competition in the American League standings are making moves to shore up weaknesses. Here’s hoping the Tribe doesn’t provide its fans with another case of “we tried, but we couldn’t get anything done”.