How on Earth is someone supposed to judge Cleveland’s starting pitching the first half of this season? Seriously, I need someone to tell me. On one hand, the 2016 MLB Draft class trio of Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac have been as-advertised when healthy, if not exceeding expectations in the case of Civale. On the other hand, the six starters not named Bieber, Civale and Plesac have, well, tried.When Aaron Civale went down with a pitching hand injury in late June he was the MLB leader in wins with 10. The 2016 MLB Draft class trio combined for a 21-9 record in 39 starts this season, with a combined ERA of 3.50, a WHIP of 1.12 and 244 strikeouts over 247 innings. That is winning production and largely what has become expected of Indians pitching in the last decade and more.
Six other Tribe pitchers have notched a start this season if you exclude a Phil Maton lead bullpen day. Those other six starters include early season bullpen hand Cal Quantrill, opening day rotation members Triston McKenzie and Logan Allen, and prospects J.C. Mejia, Sam Hentges and Eli Morgan. Many of these six have shown flashes at one point or another, but haven’t quite put it all together for the Indians in 2021.
These other six pitchers to start this season have amassed a record of 3-18, a combined ERA of 7.70, a WHIP of 1.65 and 153 strikeouts in 41 starts, eating just 153.2 innings pitched. How can I put this as nicely as possible? Well, it’s like comparing apples and avocados. Two more combined starts than Bieber, Civale and Plesac, yet just half of their production has been an incredible strain on the bullpen and is far from sustainable.
In the defense of Morgan, Mejia and Hentges, they are playing on a very accelerated timetable from what should have been reasonably expected in 2021, but this level of performance is harrowing. To even consider grading the starting pitching feels like a sucker punch, but we have to meet somewhere in the middle considering the chasm that exists between the established starters and The Replacements. All things considered, the disparity couldn’t be much worse, so there’s nowhere to go but up, which helps justify giving the group a C-.