Cleveland Indians’ Fifth Starter Job Is Open Heading Into 2016: Weekly Wroundtable

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Sep 6, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Cody Anderson (56) pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Is Cody Anderson a Better Candidate?

Matthew Bretz: I agree with others that with how Tomlin has pitched he’s earning himself a crack at the big league rotation in 2016.  Had he not injured his shoulder at the end of spring training he likely is up in late April or early May helping the club instead of retreads like Shaun Marcum and Bruce Chen. Tomlin probably limits Cody Anderson’s exposure this year as well if healthy.  That all said, I’d strongly considering going with Anderson over Tomlin if for no other reason than service time manipulation.

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It may shock some people, but as things stand now, Josh Tomlin will be eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.  Unfortunately while out with both Tommy John surgery in 2013 and his recent shoulder surgery, he was on the major league disabled list and accumulating big league service time.  He’s on pace (by my count) to finish 2015 with 5.018 years of service time (5 years and 18 days).  I’d strongly consider optioning Josh Tomlin to Triple-A (yes, amazingly he actually still has minor league options left!) for the first three to four weeks of the season.  This would actually bump back his free agent clock to 2017 and get the Indians a whole extra year of control, which is a good long-term move for the Tribe.

Now, there is one wrench here as with five years of service time Tomlin has the ability to refuse the optional assignment.  However, I’m pretty confident he wouldn’t refuse unless he’s pitching far and away better than Cody Anderson, T.J. House, or any other option for the fifth spot the Tribe would bring in. Had Tomlin not been hurt in spring training this year, he likely spends the first four-to-six weeks in the minors, making this whole debate irrelevant as he would have finished 2015 with less than five years service time.

Throw in the fact that Anderson has pitched very well in his own right and House will (hopefully) be healthy and there are other options just as good as Tomlin that the Indians can turn to. Some roster manipulation to help the club long-term is something I feel they should (and could) consider…

Next: Another Vote For Tomlin