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

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Aug 20, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Josh Tomlin (43) pitches against the New York Yankees during the third inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Another Vote For Tomlin

Katrina Putnam: In August, I wrote about Josh Tomlin’s sudden success after his return from the disabled list this season. For Tomlin, this is nothing new. He’s had several brief bursts of success, followed by injuries. It’s hard to get a read on his future ability, because his major league career has been very segmented.

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  • That said, Tomlin has made six starts this season and posted a 2.85 ERA. Four of those games have been quality starts, one was a completed game, and his record stands at 5-1. Everyone is so afraid of his propensity to give up home runs and hard-hit balls, but the fact is that Tomlin holds his own by throwing strikes and forcing hitters to beat him. Nearly 70 percent of his pitches are in the strike zone – far above average – which is why he’s walked just three of the 153 batters he’s faced. Three. Walks.

    Yes, 10 home runs in 41 innings sounds terrible, but he’s only given up 13 runs total. Tomlin isn’t playing with fire and loading the bases, the way Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez did when they were at the top of the rotation. Sure, Tomlin’s a bit unconventional, but what he’s doing works. Stats like FIP are punishing to him because of the amount of long balls he gives up, but they don’t take into account how few base runners he allows overall.

    There are concerns about Tomlin – namely his .167 BABIP, which is lower than average and signals that regression is due. He also has a 100% left-on-base rate that is certainly unsustainable. However, if he can regress even to the pitcher he was in any season except his injury-plagued 2012 campaign, Tomlin would be the best bet for the fifth starter.

    Next: Why The Tribe Should Pick T.J. House Instead