Tomlin optioned to Columbus; Masterson to start for Tribe on Friday

Pitcher Josh Tomlin delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals. He will be heading from Cleveland to Columbus.

John Rieger/John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

With the trade deadline less than a week away, there is more tinkering to the Indians’ rotation.

Zach McAllister has been recalled and will start tonight’s game at Kansas City. To make room for McAllister, Josh Tomlin has been optioned to Columbus.

Manager Terry Francona also told reporters before the game that Justin Masterson has been penciled in to start the Aug. 1 series opener against Texas.

Masterson went 6 2/3 innings for Columbus in its 5-2 loss to Norfolk on Friday. Masterson, who threw 108 pitches (62 strikes) allowed five runs on four hits with six walks and four strikeouts. The velocity on the right-hander’s fastball was still a little off and there were periods where he struggled on command of his slider and sinker.

"We talked to him today twice. He feels good about himself," Francona said of Masterson. "He feels much better about attacking the strike zone. When he comes back, he’s back. He was pretty strong in his opinion that he was ready."

McAllister started last Saturday’s game at Detroit, going 5 1/3 innings while giving up a run and striking out six. The right-hander was 3-4 with a 5.89 ERA in his first 10 starts before being placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 22 with lower back inflammation.

Tomlin has gone 5-7 with a 4.47 ERA in 15 games with 14 starts since being recalled from Columbus on May 6. Tomlin started off strong with three straight quality starts but has lost five of his last six decisions in his past eight starts dating back to June 12.

"We weren’t thrilled about doing it," said Francona about optioning Tomlin. "Josh means so much to what we are doing but it made sense. We explained it to him and we’ll move forward."

Take away the one-hitter against Seattle on June 28, and Tomlin has an ERA of 6.99 in that span.

The right-hander has allowed 16 home runs this season, including two in a 6-4 loss to the Royals on Friday where he had a no decision. The 16 home runs allowed are tied for ninth most in the American League.

Said Tomlin after Friday’s game: "I need to use my changeup more in the zone. I have to get back to throwing quality strikes as opposed to leaving the ball over the middle of the plate."

To say that the Indians rotation is in flux would be an understatement. The only two starters who have been consistent lately are Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. McAllister has thrown well since being sent to Columbus but had a rough stretch in May. Besides Tomlin, T.J. House was also sent to Columbus earlier in the week.

The Indians’ rotation goes into tonight’s game with the third-worst ERA in the American League at 4.38 and second-lest wins at 28.

Danny Salazar will start Sunday’s series finale against the Royals. Following an off day on Monday, Bauer will start Tuesday when the Indians open a three-game series against Seattle followed by Kluber on Wednesday and McAllister on Thursday.