Last night, Terry Francona used what he called a “bullpen game” thus bypassing struggling Josh Tomlin in the starting rotation.
The Tribe lost the game, but that wasn’t the reason. The Indians went into the seventh inning down just 3-2 before some subpar defense allowed the Astros to score three runs to basically ice the game.
This spot in the rotation will come up again this Saturday in Minnesota and we don’t want to see another “bullpen game”. It’s time to make a decision on what the team is going to do with their fifth starter.
Tomlin did come on and pitch a clean inning last night, but hopefully Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway don’t think the right-hander’s problems are cured and put him back out there to start.
Either bring up Ryan Merritt or Shawn Morimando to start, or start stretching Mike Clevinger out again and try to get four inning out of him this weekend.
We know that the fifth starter is not going to be used in that role once the post-season starts, but since Cleveland is in a pennant race, they shouldn’t be basing any games on a bunch of guys Tito wouldn’t use in a game he was winning either.
The Indians haven’t clinched anything yet, so they need to keep winning and can’t have a starter pitch less than two innings.
Bullpen. We know that when the Tribe has a lead late, Francona is going to use a combination of Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen to finish games. And all in all, he’s done a great job of using the trio in the best situations.
Beyond those three, Dan Otero has been incredible this year with a 1.37 ERA and the ability to get ground balls at any time. Zack McAllister seems to have recovered from his slump in the middle of the year, and since August 5th has pitched 11-2/3 innings and allowed just one run.
Jeff Manship is struggling again, so we would like to see more of Perci Garner heading into the playoffs. The Dover, Ohio native throws hard and has good sink on his pitches. Garner could be of more help in October than a guy like Manship, who has given up seven homers in 36 innings.
Tyler Naquin. A lot has been made on social media about Naquin’s freakish lack of success against fastballs this season. The numbers don’t lie, but we can’t believe a player can reach the big leagues without being able to hit gas.
We’ve been studying the rookie’s at bats, and we believe the problem comes from chasing fastballs out of the strike zone. Last night, he swung at a 1-0 pitch that was outside, so instead of a great hitter’s count, it was back to even.
That has happened a lot lately.
We also think that Naquin has gotten a little home run happy after his June and July where he belted 12 home runs after not hitting one to that point in the season.
He needs to get back to his line drive approach he had early in the season, and the home runs will come. Remember, his first big league dinger was on a pitch he took over the leftfield wall at Progressive Field. It wasn’t pulled.
The Tribe has a little over a week to put a clamp on the division because starting a week from Friday, they have a steady diet of the Tigers and Royals, their closest pursuers. If they play well until then, the magic number should be in single digits by then.