The Cleveland Indians received solid starts from both Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger during the most recent series against the Chicago White Sox.
The Cleveland Indians entered the recent four-game series against the Chicago White Sox with questions at the starting pitching position for the final two games. Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer were expected to do well in the first two games, but not much was expected out of Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger in the final two games.
It turned out that the view was wrong, as Carrasco and Bauer had poor outings, while Tomlin and Clevinger looked great when they took the mound. Tomlin and Clevinger each gave up a single run in their respective starts, while Carrasco allowed four earned runs and Bauer gave up six.
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Tomlin did pick up the only win in the series, but he also had six runs of support from the offense. The other three starters had a combined six runs in the three losses.
The outings from Bauer and Carrasco are disappointing, but it would be an overreaction to assume either pitcher is a liability heading into the final 16 games. They both just need to move on from their bad starts.
The pitcher who was thought to be a liability was Tomlin, who was removed from the starting rotation after a terrible August in which he went 0-5 with an 11.48 ERA. His return to the rotation only came after Salazar was deemed out for the rest of the regular season, but Tomlin’s five innings of work, and one earned run, was enough to give him another start.
Tomlin’s role on the team has become much more important with Salazar being out, as he becomes the likely fourth-starter for the team in a postseason rotation, given he is not plagued by home runs in his next start.
His time off/spent on the bench seemed to do him some good. It could also be a fluke, but it is too early to judge the situation either way. His start next Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals will be another test to see if he can be relied upon if the Indians hold on and make the playoffs, but a bad start in that game could mean he has ruined his final chance.
Then there is Clevinger, whose role on the team has been changing all year. He was first called up as a spot starter, then transitioned to the bullpen, only to become a starter once again.
He only made it through four innings during Thursday’s game, but he only allowed one run. Some help from the Indians’ offense could have allowed him to pick up the win.
Clevinger seems to be the odd man out of a playoff rotation, serving the team better out of the bullpen. The only likely scenario where he would start would be if Salazar was still out with an injury and Terry Francona was not confident enough to give Tomlin the start. He could turn to Clevinger with the expectation that he would go a few innings before turning it over to the bullpen. This is getting way too far ahead, but something for Francona to think about during these final 16 games.