Luckily for the Indians, Spring Training games don’t count. The Cleveland Indians were pummeled 10-0 by the Cincinnati Reds in their Cactus League opener on Tuesday, as starter Zach McAllister pitched the first of many outings that will factor into the race for the final rotation spot. Cleveland managed just four hits and five walks, while the Reds had 15 hits and four walks.
McAllister made a fairly convincing case in his first appearance, giving up three hits and a run while striking out three batters in two innings of work. The run came on two consecutive base hits, a double by Brandon Phillips and a single by Devin Mesoraco in the first inning. The battle for the fifth starter job may be the most interesting thing to watch this spring, and McAllister seems eager to compete for it.
Nick Hagadone’s Scoreless Outing
Hagadone demonstrated the reason that the Indians have been saying so many positive things about him lately, pitching a shutout third inning. After striking out Josh Satin, Hagadone got a groundout and a flyout to end the inning. The left-hander has struggled in each of his previous seasons, but showed some signs of finally finding his rhythm at the end of last year. Even before spring training began, Hagadone had been mentioned as someone who could have a tremendous impact on the Indians’ bullpen in 2015.
Bryan Price’s Two-Out Battle
With two down in the sixth inning, Bryan Price put the final touches on a game that was already a disaster. Price allowed a single, a pair of RBI doubles and an RBI single before getting the elusive third out. By the time he exited the game, the Indians were down 8-0. While the first game will certainly not lead to any final decisions, it’s safe to say that Price didn’t make a very strong argument for his inclusion on the Opening Day roster.
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Without reading too much into the first of many meaningless games, McAllister should be pleased with his outing. He faced major league hitters and generally performed well, but perhaps most importantly, he didn’t let a first-inning run in the midst of a rotation battle rattle him to the point that he couldn’t get out of trouble. Tyler Holt had a pair of walks, and Lonnie Chisenhall had a walk of his own, which is always a positive sign. In terms of defense, the only error was committed by minor leaguer Carlos Moncrief.
It can’t be reiterated enough that the first game of spring training will be filled with negatives – Price’s outing was definitely a negative, as were the four runs that Charles Brewer gave up in his two innings. The Indians didn’t score a run and couldn’t string hits together, and they looked rough overall in comparison to Cincinnati’s offensive explosion. However, there is an entire month to improve on those aspects, and there’s no reason to be concerned about them right now.
Reading Too Much Into It
Chisenhall’s first-inning walk could signal the continuation of a pattern. In his first major league season, Chisenhall had just a 3.6 percent walk rate, but he got it above five in each of his next two seasons. In 2014, he walked 7.3 percent of the time, which was nearly the major league average. Perhaps this year he’ll finally make it above league average.
Check It Out
– Jason Kipnis, Nick Swisher and Brandon Moss were all notably absent as they continue to recover from their injuries. The reports about Moss and Kipnis are positive, but Swisher isn’t progressing with his rehab as quickly as his teammates are.
– In Wednesday’s game, the battle for the rotation will continue for both teams as Josh Tomlin takes on Anthony DeSclafani. Last season, Tomlin had a 4.01 FIP, struck out 21.1 percent of batters and walked hitters just 3.1 percent of the time. His biggest flaw was the long ball, with a 4.0 percent home run rate.
– T.J. House is also slated to take the mound against the Reds on Wednesday. The left-hander’s 3.69 FIP and 5.2 percent walk rate made up for an 18.7 percent strikeout rate last season, but he will still have to fight for the right to be with the team on Opening Day.