Indians: Ideal members and order of the 2020 starting rotation

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Indians rotation will look a little different without Corey Kluber in 2020. What is the best way to construct the rotation for 2020?

The Cleveland Indians made a trade that dug into their starting pitching, sending Corey Kluber to Texas. The return was underwhelming but, hopefully, the move will make more sense later in the offseason after more moves are made.

The first three starters are locks to be in the rotation to start the year. Those players are Mike Clevinger, Carlos Carrasco, and Shane Bieber. The fourth and fifth spots are now up for grabs in a six-man competition.

Jefry Rodriguez, Zach Plesac, Adam Plutko, and Aaron Civale all have a slight advantage over Scott Moss and Logan Allen having started games in the 2019 season. Plesac and Civale were both impressive in their starts in 2019 and they gave themselves good chances to be considered for the rotation come 2020.

With Kluber now out of the picture, the Indians will have a new Opening Day starter for the first time since 2015. With Carrasco in limbo due to the circumstances of his 2019 season, Clevinger and Bieber are likely the leaders to get the nod for game one.

Out of the two, Bieber gets the Opening Day start and the first of five rotation spots. Bieber had a stellar 2019 season that saw him walk very few and attack the strike zone without getting hurt.

Bieber slowly worked himself into ace conversation with his 2019 season. He gets to prove that the hype is deserved and he can be the ace of the staff in 2020.

The next two really don’t matter much as far as order. I am choosing to put Clevinger second and Carrasco third just to take it easy with Carrasco after being out so much of 2019.

After that it gets interesting for the last two spots. Plutko is out of options while Rodriguez, Civale, and Plesac all have at least one remaining.

This could put Plutko in the rotation, but they could also use the 26-man roster coming in 2020 to keep most of them on the Opening Day roster. Given their success in 2019 as starters, Civale and Plesac could find their way into the fourth and fifth rotation spots with Plutko landing in the ‘pen as a long reliever.

However, the most ideal move, in my mind, would be to put Plutko fourth and Civale fifth and option Plesac to Triple-A Columbus. This would also put Rodriguez in the bullpen.

Rodriguez seems as though he would be better served being a reliever as of this point in his career. Plesac had a great 2019, but Civale seems to be the better pitcher at this time and that gets him the nod in the rotation.

Plutko could always move to the pen if he struggles as a starter and they can then call Plesac up into the rotation. There are many bodies in the pitching depth but they will need to really separate themselves this coming spring.

I believe that when things settle and Opening Day is upon us, the starting five will be Bieber, Clevinger, Carrasco, Plutko, and Civale. Plesac will undoubtedly see action in 2020 but it will likely be either in the ‘pen or coming up for an injury or a struggling Civale or Plutko.

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Spring training will bring more clarity to the back-end of the rotation as well as the bullpen arms for 2020. The Indians traded away one of the best pitchers to ever wear their uniform and now they will need to show their pitching development is, without a doubt, the real deal.