The Cleveland Indians have a problem. A problem that other teams would more than likely welcome with open arms.
The Indians currently have eight starting pitchers – Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, Danny Salazar, Bruce Chen, Zach McAllister, T.J. House, and Trevor Bauer on their Spring Training roster. While some–like former CY Young winner Corey Kluber—are better than others, all are capable of starting for a major league team.
Of the pitchers fighting for a place in the tribe’s starting five, House might be the best fit.
House made his major league debut for the Indians in 2014, and he became an important piece of the Tribe’s rotation during the second half of the season. Over 19 games (18 starts, 1 relief), House posted an ERA of 3.55 through 102 innings and recorded a win-loss record of 5-3. While his record isn’t anything special, the Indians went 13-5 in games that House started.
He offers a nice change of pace for Cleveland’s rotation. The Indians starting five has been consistently dominated by right-handed pitching in recent years, and opposing managers would take advantage of this by stacking their line-ups with both right-handed and switch-hitting batters. House would give the Indians at least one left-handed starting pitcher every five days.
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Through 10 second-half starts, House went 4-1 and posted an ERA of 2.53. Accuracy proved to be one his best attributes. House had three straight starts in which he gave up one run or less through seven innings of pitching without walking a batter, becoming the first Indians pitcher to do so since 1914. On top of that, he allowed just three runs or less in 14 of his 18 starts.
Although it’s early, House has looked solid through three games in Spring Training. Playing in three games and starting two, he posted an ERA of 2.79 over 9 2/3 innings pitched and recorded one win. House has allowed just five hits and has yet to walk a batter. He also currently has the most strikeouts on the Indians spring training roster with 10.
If House wants to win a spot in the rotation, he will have to beat out long-time Indian Tomlin, the inconsistent Salazar, the hard throwing McAllister and fellow lefty Chen. Spring Training will more than likely be the determining factor.
In the event that all of the aforementioned fringe pitchers have a good spring, the Indians would be smart to take into account House’s previous track record with the club. He proved last season that he can consistently get it done at a high level, and he played a major role in the Indians second-half pitching staff. Look for House to build on his success last year and take over one of the final two spots of the Indians rotation.