The Cleveland Indians optioned T.J. House to Triple-A Columbus, leaving just two in the battle for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
It’s hard for me to believe that House was every really in this battle for the last spot in the rotation. He was terrible last season, but many chalked it up to his shoulder inflammation. His rehab starts didn’t fare any better and he was shut down for the season. Even after the year’s that Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin had, House was “in the running” with those two and Mike Clevinger. Now it’s just Anderson and Tomlin in the battle.
It’s very possible that early in the season that both could see their share of starts as managers don’t like to stress the starters with high pitch counts early in the year. Anderson came on last year to finish 7-3 with a 3.05 ERA, while Tomlin was just as effective going 7-2 with a 3.03 ERA. Tomlin is somewhat the “old man” of the Indians as he’s been with the organization his entire career. If not for being sidetracked by injuries, it’s likely Tomlin would have been a consistent part of this staff for the past few seasons.
So which direction should Terry Francona go? Both pitchers have struggled this spring in minimal work, but the numbers aren’t likely what the coaches are looking at. Location, holding baserunners, managing pitch count are generally the keys in spring training so it’s hard to get a gauge on who might have the advantage.
If it’s a matter of one or the other, I think the nod has to fall to Tomlin. First, I admire how resilient he’s been through injury. It looks like he might finally have his arm back to full strength, and I just feel like the veteran should get the job.
But that of course isn’t to take away from the job Anderson did last season. My personal thought is that Trevor Bauer should have been lumped into the competition. Since he wasn’t, I’m assuming the leash will be short for him to open the season. We know what sort of ceiling he has, but we knew that about Danny Salazar too, but he needed some time in the minors to sort things out. It’s not hard to think that Bauer could need the same treatment.