Cleveland Indians: Josh Tomlin cannot afford another bad outing

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Josh Tomlin needs to turn things around fast or risk being replaced in the rotation by Mike Clevinger.

Josh Tomlin will be making his third start of the season tonight as the Cleveland Indians look to come up with back-to-back wins for the first time since Texas.

For that to happen, Tomlin will seemingly have to pitch a solid game, as the offense is still sporadic at this point in the season.

But fans may not be feeling too confident about the veteran pitcher after his first two starts of the season, and it is clear he must turn things around to keep his job.

Tomlin has allowed a combined 13 runs on 15 hits in his first two starts. It culminated last Thursday, when Tomlin gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings in a game that was lost as soon as it began.

This start is reminiscent of his horrible month of August in 2016, when Tomlin performed so poorly he was ultimately removed from the rotation for a short time.

The key part of that is that he wasn’t removed permanently, but for a short period of time to figure things out. He ended up bouncing back and being an important part of the playoff rotation. That only happened because of the injuries to Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco, but he performed well and that’s all that matters.

But if he has another poor outing tonight, he may need some time to figure things out once again. And with the depth in the organization, there is no time to spend on watching him go out on the mound every five days and put his team in an early deficit.

Mike Clevinger is currently dominating in Triple-A Columbus where he is 2-0 through three starts with a 0.47 ERA and 25 strikeouts. There is no reason to keep him down there if he could be an asset to the major league club, and he may be needed soon if Tomlin continues to struggle.

Clevinger being called up wouldn’t necessarily mean Tomlin would be out of the rotation for the rest of the season, but it would give him some time to work on whatever is causing him to struggle so far this season. Some time away helped him in 2016, and could benefit him once again in 2017.

Tonight should give Terry Francona a better idea of the situation, as Tomlin has a chance to quiet his haters with a great start. But if he doesn’t, it may be time to give Clevinger a shot.