After a slight delay to find the missing “W” in our roundtable, the Weekly Wroundtable returns, and once again the Wahoo’s on First staff is joined by representatives from other Indians blogs, this time from It’s Pronounced ‘Lajaway. Our question debated this week regards the Indians rotation.
With Zach McAllister on the DL, how should the Indians proceed to fill his role for the next two weeks?
And here’s what we think, and please keep in mind most responses were submitted prior to Carlos Santana and Nick Swisher’s injuries:
Adam Hinz (IPL): I’m limited to two weeks? Really?
I’m just not a big fan of McAllister, though I am grateful that his past two starts gave me ample opportunities to joke that I “wanted Austin Kearns back,” so there’s that.
I think the problem I have with McAllister is expectations; in his first full season after being traded for, there were some people legitimately saying he was the best pitcher in the Indians rotation — I don’t love (Justin) Masterson or Ubaldo (Jimenez) either, but I’d take either of those guys every day of the week. McAllister should be your fourth starter (at best) and his absence shouldn’t cause a huge bump in the road. Unfortunately, the Indians don’t exactly have depth at starting pitcher and we’re trotting out Josh Tomlin and TJ House on the regular.
To answer your question, though, I’d hop in my handy-dandy time machine and do two things:
1) Sign Scott Kazmir to the deal he signed with the Oakland Atheltics. Why this didn’t happen here is perplexing beyond belief — two years, fair value… why? As soon as the A’s jumped on Kazmir you knew the Indians had made a mistake.
2) Ran with Aaron Harang coming out of spring training, instead of the eminently execrable Carlos Carrasco. I wrote an article about how Harang should be the guy about 20 minutes before he was released, and he currently has a 3.32 ERA with the Atlanta Braves.
Either of those moves could have been big for a rotation when dealing with injuries, ineffectiveness, and often a mix of the two. Instead, the Indians have kind of made their bed and have to lie in it. The rotation is holding its own for now (miraculously), but one more injury could prove absolutely devastating. I don’t think there’s an easy answer for McAllister’s absence right now (other than it being addition by subtraction for the time being).
Brian Heise: For the sake of maintaining some resemblance of roster continuity, I’d utilize Carlos Carrasco over the course of the next two weeks. In terms of viable options to replace McAllister while he recovers, Carrasco is probably the best of the bunch. There isn’t really anyone else ready to make what I would assume to be three starts at the big league level (or possibly more) within the minor league ranks. Not only that, but Carrasco has been shoehorned into the bullpen because of his lack of minor league options. He’s not an integral member of the late inning bullpen rotation. He’s simply a long reliever for mop up type situations. The Indians would be best served to suck it up over the next two weeks by sliding Carrasco back in. That would keep the number of necessary roster adjustments to a minimum while also providing Carrasco with yet another opportunity to prove himself as a start. While I’m not at all confident that he will perform well should the Indians go this route, I do feel like he provides the best solution to a short-term problem. Even better, say he performs well in however many starts he makes. Could he establish enough value to pique the interest of a contender? Who knows? Certainly, not I, but what do the Indians have to lose?
Matthew Bretz: This one should be pretty easy to guess coming from me. While I actually would like to see Carrasco get another crack, I think that ship has sailed (unfortunately). Tribe has put him in the pen and just needs to live with that decision for now. TJ House didn’t wow anyone in his first start but did go 6 innings (should have gone 7) and is more than capable of holding down the fort until McAllister comes back. Won’t go too much into House as my article already did most of that, but he was very solid in AAA (arguably better than Trevor Bauer). Plus there are really no other options down in AAA to turn to, at least not any good options at this point. Salazar still has work to do and shouldn’t be rushed back due to an injury. He is a big part of this team’s future so getting him right is more important than a couple starts near the end of May or beginning of June. Travis Banwart is a guy that was mentioned for a potential spot start the other day. If it was only one start then I suppose you could do worse but hasn’t been all that great this year in AAA. FIP over 4, which is nothing new as the last time his FIP was below 4 was back in 2008 when he was in Low-A ball.
Ed Carroll: Given that both are likely to have less-than-stellar results as starting pitchers, I put Carrasco back in the rotation, over TJ House, because I’d rather take one last chance on Carrasco’s potential and the injury opens up a door to do so.
Michael Cheany: It’s easy to say that McAllister hadn’t been pitching well prior to his DL stint (and if you said that, there probably wouldn’t be a lot of people who would disagree with you). However, his FIP and xFIP this season are both hovering around the 4.00 mark (lower than his actual ERA of 5.89), and while I try not to obsess too much over these metrics, he has solid peripherals this season as well. With that being said, his loss (even a temporary one) is a loss for the Indians’ rotation. That said, the team has a few options to proceed with moving forward.
First of all, let me go on the record as saying that I wasn’t a huge fan of TJ House’s start against the Orioles recently. You can chalk it up to the fact that it was his first major league start if you want to, but his location was inconsistent and he was leaving pitches in places he probably shouldn’t have left them. That’s not to say I’m not a fan of him, I just see him as a reliever in the long-term. I know that he’s been solid for Columbus (he earned his recent start for the Indians), but I don’t see him as the answer (at least yet). If you know me well, you’ll probably understand that I’m a huge fan of Travis Banwart. I don’t know why, but there’s something about the guy that I just love. It helps that he’s pitched well in Columbus (his peripherals and advanced metrics suggest that he’s had a little bit of good fortune, but his actual numbers aren’t as misleading as you might think). That’s not to say that he should be the rotation fill-in, in part because he would need to be added to the 40-man roster (in which case someone would have to be DFAed). The same holds true for Kyle Davies, who has also pitched well for Columbus (and whose peripherals and advanced numbers suggest he’s pitching even better than his numbers say). For that reason, it will probably be House who continues to fill in. Carlos Carrasco is also an option, but I’d be lying if I said I was that comfortable going that route. It’s also possible that Danny Salazar could be promoted again, but he’s certainly struggled — even after his original demotion.
Or, David Murphy or Ryan Raburn could get a spot start or two. I mean, they’ve looked good as relievers