Josh Tomlin is back with the Cleveland Indians after more than a month on the disabled list. What will his role be for the remainder of the season?
Tomlin has struggled this season. That is no secret. His ERA of 6.75 tells the story. So do the 21 home runs he has allowed in only 52 innings of work.
The veteran’s return comes at a time when the roster is set to expand in just over a week. So as much as his return frustrates some, it was coming soon enough anyway. The next question is what his role will be and if that will stretch into October.
Indians fans know that Terry Francona respects Tomlin and his veteran presence plays a large factor in why he is still around. That is the only logical explanation.
April really set the tone for Tomlin’s season. He allowed eight earned runs in his first start, finishing April with a 9.16 ERA. He was finally moved to the bullpen at the end of May after he allowed a combined eight runs and five home runs in his first two starts that month. He didn’t do terrible in June but his limited success didn’t inspire overwhelming confidence moving forward.
I’m going to assume Tomlin remains in the bullpen for the rest of the season. The only way he gets another start is if the doom sets in and there are injuries, or if it is the last week of the season and there is nothing left to play for.
As for the postseason, I see no reason, other than injuries, why he would be included on the roster. He can still provide his veteran presence on the bench as an inactive player. He just simply can’t be relied upon on such a big stage.
Personally, I want to see Tomlin succeed. I can’t imagine fans want him to fail, although there are some real crazies out there. He just hasn’t shown anything this season that would warrant him being trusted in October.
Tomlin did come out of the bullpen in last year’s ALDS and finished with three shutout, hitless innings against the Yankees. He also did decent in the 2016 postseason, up until Game 6 of the World Series.
So he has postseason experience in the past. Using that alone as a measuring stick may convince some. But we can’t disregard everything that has happened this year.
Ultimately, the decision is up to Francona. I don’t see any scenario in which Tomlin fits into the postseason roster, but that has been said before in past years by many others.