Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Josh Tomlin is receiving a postseason start just one month after being removed from the starting rotation.
The Cleveland Indians are in Boston with a chance to clinch a berth in the ALCS with a win tonight. This should come as no surprise to anyone following this resilient team throughout the entirety of the 2016 season, but tonight’s starting pitcher may come as a surprise to some.
Josh Tomlin is getting the nod in this potential ALDS-clinching game after falling out of the starting rotation in the final month of the season.
Tomlin did not exactly earn his way back into the rotation, as the injuries to both Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar left a glaring void for that third starter spot, but that doesn’t matter now. What matters is that he is being given the opportunity to prove his value to this team by putting them in a position to win tonight’s game and advance to the ALCS.
While Tomlin’s entire season was not a disaster, his play in August may have fans wondering why Francona decided to go with him in tonight’s important game, instead of someone like Mike Clevinger. That decision may have come down to Tomlin’s experience compared to that of the rookie, but he did see some success this season.
Tomlin entered August with a 3.43 ERA and only three losses on the season, with the team only losing in four of his starts up to that point. Then August came around and he collapsed, allowing 10 home runs in six starts, recording five straight losses and only making it through the fifth inning on one occasion.
This month tarnished an otherwise successful season, but fans don’t seem to remember the good when the bad is so glaring. It is fair, as one’s play at the end of the season during a playoff run is in the spotlight, but that one month should not define Tomlin’s entire season.
Tonight’s start marks Tomlin’s ultimate chance at redemption. He enters the game with already low expectations from fans and the likelihood of being pulled early if he allows any early runs. There is inherent pressure because of the prominence of the game, but Tomlin is facing much less pressure than any other starter in the series.
If he goes out and does poorly, it would not be as shocking as if Kluber went out and did the same. But if Tomlin can give the Indians five solid innings of work, maintaining a lead or even a tie, this would be an overwhelming success. Doing this, and keeping the runs to a minimum, would help shift the focus from his August collapse back to his reliability as a middle-of-the-rotation starter over the past few years. He is being called upon because of the injuries to Salazar and Carrasco, but a great outing would make him less of a replacement and more of an asset to the rotation as the Indians continue the march toward a World Series title.