In the final part of our Cleveland Indians All-Decade Team series, we take a look at the Studs and Duds of the pitching staff and bench players.
Today we take a look at our third and final part of our All-Decade Team for the Cleveland Indians, looking at the studs and duds on the mound.
We’ll dive into both the starting rotation and the bullpen, looking at some studs and duds that helped shape the decade that was. Here’s a look at the best and worst pitchers the Cleveland Indians unleashed this decade, along with the best and worst of their bench players.
This decade saw some of the best starting pitching in Indians history. That statement may come off as ridiculous to some of our older readers but I’d put this decade up against those great rotations of the 1940s and 1950s.
The dominance truly started in 2014 with the emergence of Corey Kluber, who would go on to win his first of two Cy Young Awards that year. Kluber would need his own article to describe all his accolades and dominance this decade; needless to say he’s our top Stud of the decade for starting pitchers.
He is the only two-time Cy Young winner in franchise history and also tied a franchise record, making five straight Opening Day starts on the mound (2015-2019). He’s arguably one of the five best starting pitchers in all of baseball this decade as well and one could make a strong claim he should have had a third Cy Young award this decade (2016). His 34.6 fWAR this decade was tops not only among pitchers but among all players for the Tribe this decade.
Carlos Carrasco is another easy call for stud of the decade. His career took a much longer path than Kluber as he made his Tribe and big league debut way back in 2009. However, it took many ups and downs between the bigs and AAA, surgeries, and even a move to the bullpen to get Carrasco to where he is today. But in nine seasons this decade (he missed all of 2012 with injury), he posted an fWAR over 24 overall and 23.4 as a starter. The third and final choice for stud among starting pitchers is not as easy though…
Trevor Bauer is the choice if you simply go by fWAR. He finished with a 16.5 mark, good for third place among starting pitchers this decade. However, he also threw over 1000 innings as a starter.
Justin Masterson meanwhile was fourth in fWAR at 14.5 but did so in 878 innings as a starter. Breaking that down to a fWAR/200 innings value, Masterson actually just beats out Bauer with a 3.30 fWAR/200 to Bauer’s 3.23. Masterson also posted a lower FIP, just edging out Bauer 3.76 to 3.86.
The wild card here is Danny Salazar who posted a 3.52 fWAR/200 thanks to a 10.6 fWAR in 583 innings. He also bested both Bauer and Masterson in FIP, ERA, K% and BB%. By all measures, Salazar was the best pitcher of the three. But he was about 300 innings behind Masterson and over 400 behind Bauer. So who do you go with, the elite that burned quick in Salazar? The steady groundball machine in Masterson? Or the machine in Bauer?
Most will likely disagree with this choice, but for me, Masterson gets the third and final spot. An easy case could be made for Bauer, no question. But Masterson was that ace for a while early on and Bauer just never seemed to pitch as well as we all hoped. Salazar ultimately burned too bright and injuries kept him off the list. Mike Clevinger is a guy most would like here too but he was under 500 innings and think he just didn’t have the innings to be a factor here.
As for the three duds of the decade, this is another hard choice. The Indians only had six pitchers post a negative fWAR for them this decade…6 in 10 years! And two of them made just a single start.
The pitcher that posted the worst fWAR is the first choice of our three duds for the rotation: Brett Myers. One of the big whiffs in free agency for the Tribe this decade, Myers was added before the 2013 season (along with other high priced additions), and he lasted just three starts before the Indians realized their mistake. He posted an impressively bad -0.5 fWAR in those three starts that totaled 16 innings. His ERA in those starts? 6.75. His FIP? A beyond ugly 8.67, which was by far the worst of any pitcher making at least three starts (Alex White at 5.69 was the second-worst).
The second dud of the decade was another veteran brought in, though this one at a much lower cost: Shaun Marcum. Of all the pitchers to post a negative WAR this decade, only Marcum did it while making more than three starts. He made six starts for the Tribe throwing 30 awful innings that included an ERA of 6.00 and a FIP of 5.77. Those six starts in 2015 were the last starts of his career as well.
The third choice was the really hard one for me. Derek Lowe was not good in his lone seasons with the Tribe but did manage to post a FIP under 4.5 and an fWAR over 1.0 so he avoided the honor. Previously mentioned Alex White was terrible but a rookie getting a couple starts before being shipped off to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez kept him away from the honor as well.
In the end, it was a battle between David Huff and Adam Plutko. They each had the honor of being the only two starting pitchers in the bottom 10 in FIP to throw more than 30 innings, with each topping 150 innings. They each posted identical 0.6 fWAR and neither was much of a strikeout or control artist.
By a nose, the third and final dud starting pitcher of the decade goes to David Huff and his 5.25 ERA and 5.27 FIP. 29 starts and 151 innings of bad…not ideal for a former first-round pick.
Studs: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Justin Masterson
Duds: Brett Myers, Shaun Marcum, David Huff