Predicting the Indians' 2013 Rotation

A lot has gone wrong for the Indians this season, but I think it’s safe to say that the rotation has been the greatest source of the Tribe’s woes. Justin Masterson has been inconsistent, and Ubaldo Jimenez is an absolute enigma. Jeanmar Gomez, Josh Tomlin, and Derek Lowe have all flopped, Fausto Carmona isn’t actually Fausto Carmona, and even breakout star Zach McAllister has shown himself to be quite prone to the long ball.

With that in mind, in this edition of the Weekly Wroundtable, we asked our respondents: What will the Indians’ 2013 rotation be? Joining our panel this week are guest respondents Charlie Adams from Indians Prospect Insider and Nino Colla from The Tribe Daily.

Charlie Adams (Indians Prospect Insider): Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Jeanmar Gomez (flex). Masterson is a no-brainer, though hardly ace-worthy. Jimenez, while shaky and getting expensive ($5.75 million in ’13 and $8 million in ’14 as a player option), is a risk/reward play and at 2/14 is not worth taking the risk of missing a big season/eating crow and declaring the trade a bust. McAlister and Kluber have earned first shot to stick in the rotation and Carrasco is coming back from injury, but is a much better option than others. He will likely be monitored and Gomez will be the injury/flex guy that gets first pop at filling gaps.

Overall, the Indians have nothing to be excited about in their starting pitching and should be doing everything to get the staff ready for more serious contention in 2014.

Nino Colla (The Tribe Daily): Well if that isn’t a shot in the dark…I think it will undergo several changes throughout the season and take on many different forms. The decisions the Indians will have to make in the offseason are not easy. They have to decide if they are going to trade some people and one of those guys is Justin Masterson. Of course he’s probably the one dependable thing you have in the rotation and even he isn’t all that consistent as we’ve come to learn. Either way, I think they hold onto him, go again with Ubaldo Jimenez, return Carlos Carrasco and round it out with a battle between the two youngsters in Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister and bringing back Roberto Hernandez. Ultimately, it isn’t the ideal five guys, and you would like to see them go out and make an addition, but I just don’t think that is realistic.

Evan Vogel: It’s hard to say what the Indians’ rotation will look like. As I mentioned in a recent post, signing Brandon McCarthy would be an excellent start to reshaping the rotation and roster. Considering the Tribe paid Derek Lowe $5 million in 2012, going to $8-$10 million per year on McCarthy would be a great investment for a long-term deal. Signing the free agent would also mean the money that Roberto “Don’t Call Me Fausto Carmona” Hernandez was due in an option could be declined for a huge upgrade. You have to go young and count on some guys to rebound from there.

If you sign McCarthy, the rotation is: Brandon McCarthy, Justin Masterson, Zach McAllister, Ubaldo Jimenez, Carlos Carrasco. If you do nothing and pick up the terrible $9 million option on Hernandez, take away McCarthy’s name and plan on another 85-90 loss season with Hernandez in the middle of the rotation.


The club has to sign a solid anchor to the rotation, though. While McCarthy is from the west coast and may not like Cleveland, money can talk. It is time to get in the mix and while the rotation would be right-handed heavy again, if the club focuses on the pitchers using their two-seam fastballs to induce contact and grounders, they could all surprise a lot of people. Carrasco showed a lot of promise before injury and somewhere in that arm is an Ubaldo Jimenez that can win a lot of games, pitch a lot of innings, and strike a lot of guys out.

Steve Kinsella: As we look forward to the 2013 Indians rotation we can most likely pencil in Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Zach McAllister as the top 3. More than likely the 4th spot in the rotation will be filled by Carlos Carrasco who will be returning from Tommy John surgery. The fifth starter will most likely come from outside of the organization and it is my belief that they will look for a left handed starter. There are other options that come from inside the organization in RHP Jeanmar Gomez and LHP T.J. McFarland.

Merritt Rohlfing: The following is predicated on the Indians actually spending some money in the offseason on more than just innings eaters and defense. The Tribe starting rotation will be (in no particular order for dramatics’ sake): Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister, Roberto Hernandez and…… Brandon McCarthy!

Yes, based on what Evan wrote the other day I’m suddenly and irrevocably on the McCarthy bandwagon. The guy can pitch and probably won’t command top dollar on the market, so he’ll by default be the ace due to goodness. That takes pressure off Masterson (whose struggles I chalk up at least partly to his trying to become more well-rounded) and gives a nice tandem to battle the best of the AL Central. It also lessens the impact of Ubaldo’s implosions and Hernandez’s fitness questions.

McAllister I’m particularly excited about, his raw stuff is evolving to a point where he could be more than just a back end guy. The only question mark here is McCarthy and he could easily become Edwin Jackson, Anibal Sanchez or Colby Lewis (check the splits) among others. But I want McCarthy.

David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

Lewie Pollis: Four of the five are pretty obvious: Justin Masterson, Zach McAllister, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Carlos Carrasco. The fifth spot looks like a tossup between Roberto Hernandez, Jeanmar Gomez, and Corey Kluber. I’d go with Kluber as the favorite, but while I wouldn’t agree with it I could see the Indians picking up Hernandez’ 2013 option and sticking him in the rotation again.

A wild card in the mix—one that no one else seems to think is a good idea but that I say should be a real consideration—is the possibility of moving Jimenez to the bullpen. Putting him in a relief role would mean he wouldn’t have to rely as much on his secondary pitches and it would help him to regain some of the life he’s lost on his fastball. If the Indians recognize that Drew Pomeranz and Alex White are sunk costs and truly try to maximize what they have in Ubaldo, he could start 2013 in the ‘pen and open up a spot for Gomez, Paolo Espino, or perhaps a free agent like Brandon McCarthy in the rotation.

Brian Heise: It certainly feels like the Indians will have a plethora of options when it comes to filling out a rotation in 2012. Thanks to injuries and a few poor performances we’ve seen more starting pitchers this season than you can begin to count on one finger.

With that said I feel like there are three mortal locks for the rotation as of right now. Masterson and Jimenez are likely to head the rotation once again. Masterson has had a down year, but he’s established himself as the ace. As for Jimenez, the Indians are going to do whatever it takes to get a return on their investment and that means watching him again every fifth day in 2013. The third lock has to be McAllister. He’s been far and away the most consistent pitcher in the rotation since his call up and has earned a spot next year.

Rounding out the rotation I expect to see some combination of Roberto Hernandez, Jeanmar Gomez, or random free agent X in the four spot with the return of Carlos Carrasco from Tommy John surgery filling the void as fifth starter. So while there is potential at the top, it’s the back half that could once again cause problems and concern in 2013.

Who will be in the Indians' 2013 rotation? (pick 5)

  • Justin Masterson (91%, 20 Votes)
  • Zach McAllister (91%, 20 Votes)
  • Carlos Carrasco (77%, 17 Votes)
  • Ubaldo Jimenez (73%, 16 Votes)
  • Corey Kluber (36%, 8 Votes)
  • Brandon McCarthy (27%, 6 Votes)
  • Someone else from outside the organization (27%, 6 Votes)
  • Someone else from inside the organization (23%, 5 Votes)
  • Jeanmar Gomez (9%, 2 Votes)
  • Roberto Hernandez (5%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 22

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Tags: Brandon McCarthy Cleveland Indians Corey Kluber Justin Masterson Roberto Hernandez Ubaldo Jimenez Zach McAllister

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