With Justin Masterson traded and Zach McAllister soon heading to the minors, the Cleveland Indians’ starting rotation is in flux outside of Corey Kluber.
That’s certainly not an ideal situation for a club fighting to make up ground in a playoff race.
T.J. House will be recalled for his 10th start this season as he faces the major league-worst Texas Rangers at home Saturday night.
Kluber has been outstanding while ranking among the AL leaders in wins and ERA, but Indians starters have a 4.39 ERA that ranks 13th in the league.
Masterson struggled before being dealt to St. Louis at the non-waiver trade deadline, and McAllister was even worse before being designated for assignment Friday.
Cleveland (54-55) had dropped six of eight before beating the Rangers 12-2 in Friday’s series opener. The Indians sit 5 1/2 games behind Toronto for the second wild-card spot and 6 1/2 back of Detroit in the Central.
House (1-2, 4.50 ERA) will try to fill a gap in the rotation in his sixth stint with Cleveland this season. He was sent to the minors July 22 after giving up three runs, six hits and three walks in five innings of a 4-3 loss to Minnesota the previous day.
"He did throw a lot of strikes, just not the quality strikes that we’ve kind of seen," manager Terry Francona said.
The rookie left-hander was roughed up by the Rangers on June 9, allowing six runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 17-7 victory.
Much like that contest, Cleveland’s offense feasted on Texas pitching Friday as David Murphy went 4 for 4 with a two-run double in the Indians’ six-run fifth inning.
Murphy, 11 for 22 over his last seven games, spent his previous 6 1/2 seasons with the Rangers before signing a two-year deal with Cleveland in the offseason.
"Obviously when you’re playing against your friends, a lot of guys I played with over there are gone, but playing for bragging rights, it can be fun," Murphy said.
Mike Aviles had three RBIs and Michael Brantley added three hits.
"We haven’t had many games like that," Francona said. "We’ve had so many close games. It’s nice to have some breathing room."
Cleveland will look to keep its offense going against Texas’ Miles Mikolas (1-3, 8.54), who will be making his sixth start since being called up from the minors July 1.
Mikolas’ best major league start and first win since 2012 came July 21 when he allowed two runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 4-2 win over the New York Yankees, but he allowed eight runs and walked four in 4 2-3 innings of Sunday’s 9-3 loss to Oakland.
"I fell into some of the bad habits that we’d been working on in the bullpen," the right-hander said. "I executed well and made the transition well in the New York game, and kind of fell back. I’m going to work on it."
Texas (43-66) has scored just six runs during a four-game road losing streak. Adrian Beltre went 2 for 2 with a walk and Elvis Andrus had two hits with an RBI in the opener for the Rangers, who have dropped 17 of 20 away from home.
Cleveland has won four straight overall and at home versus Texas.