The Indians, in impressive fashion added another series win to their young 2011 season resume. Entering the weekend series, I was very impressed by the Orioles starting staff and this caused me concern. This past Wednesday we had just lost two and were recovering until Friday night from losing a tough one when Durbin blew it extra innings. The responses by fans were none too kind to Mr. Durbin.
This series, the Indians have done well putting together solid, timely hits and putting runners on putting pressure on the Orioles pitchers and defense. Single after single, walk, bunt, double, homerun. Anything that is needed to help the team score is being addressed right away.
The lineup will have a shakeup that has been well-anticipated with the return of Grady Sizemore. The questions posed have been who will be going down to AAA Columbus when he is activated and where will he bat in the lineup. I think Acta does not want to tell until he has to tell, similar to how he handled the announcement of the 5th pitcher in the rotation, the 4th starter, Josh Tomlin. I hope that Sizemore will continue to do what is needed to make the lineup better and, whatever the case, have the lineup not skip a beat whether he bats 1-9 in the lineup.
The starters for the Tribe have gotten ahead by attacking the strike zone. This is no secret. What has been nice is that even though occasional runners get on and a run may cross the plate, the Indians are avoiding the big inning from their opponents.
The defense is getting lead runners, double plays, keeping the runs from scoring in bunches. We are getting outs when we need to get them. This is truly encouraging. The bullpen also is showing up and doing the job every night. It is becoming a formula that every team wants and we currently have.
We have had consistency from our bullpen, our designated hitter, our offense, getting the lead fast and keeping the opponent from retaking the lead. We have had FUN as fans watching and can tell so far that the players are having fun too.
Still, the Royals too have a formula and are winning too. We will need to play smart as we go forward and not take any team, especially any division rival, for granted. It will be interesting to see how we match up against the Royals and then the Twins this week. I, myself am looking forward to it. Go Tribe!
Looking at the choices they made
The Fab 5 known as the starting pitchers for the 2011 Cleveland Indians at the onset consist of Fausto Carmona, Carlos Carrasco, Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin and Mitch Talbot in this order. After listening tonight to Mitch Talbot’s performance, the temptation is to say, “uh, @Mactriber_11, yeah, Mr. Acta, are you sure you want Mitch after today’s 7-4 loss where he gave up a grand slam and 7 runs and 14 hits in 6 innings of work? Shouldn’t we go with David Huff or Jeanmar Gomez instead?” I think the answer Manager Manny Acta or General Manager Chris Antonetti would give and have given is one word, consistency! Looking at the collection of the entire spring, I can see why these 5 pitchers were chosen to represent the Indians every 5 days to begin games. Here are my thoughts.
Thoughts about the starting rotation
The definition of the word ace, according to dictionary.com, that best describes Fausto Carmona is a very skilled person; expert. When looking at the 5 pitchers selected for the rotation, Carmona is the most skilled of the young rotation. In looking over his stats, the stats show his ERA is way up. However, what is encouraging is his strikeouts are up too. The idea of attacking the strike zone is working. For him to be the true ace, attacking the strike zone is what will be needed and is needed.
In 2007, Fausto Carmona showed stats of 11 strikeouts and surrendering 8 walks. this led to a 2007 regular season where he surrendered 61 walks and struck out 137 batters leading to a 19-8 regular season record. In 2011, so far in Spring Training, Fausto has struck out 21 batters and walked only 7 batters. The potential is there to be better than he was in 2007. 19 wins in any year is hard to come across. Now the potential is here for Fausto to be another 20 game winner. If the numbers prove correct, 20 or more wins for Fausto could be accomplished. Talk about an ace! Wow! No matter what actually happens, he is still an ace because of all the starters currently, he does have the most experience, he is the expert on the current staff. Good luck Fausto, be the ACE!
In 16 2/3 innings pitched, young Carlos Carrasco had 6 walks and 14 strikeouts. Remember, however, he missed some time to welcome his newborn daughter into the world. Why a number 2 pitcher? His stats look similar to Jeanmar Gomez. I think Carlos Carrasco was named the #2 starter not based on these stats. Simply put, Manager Manny Acta stated that he wanted to seperate Carmona, the sinkerball pitcher from Masterson, another sinkerball pitcher. Seeing these two pitchers back to back did not seem prudent coming into the start of 2011. On a personal level, I think Carlos, bringing a daughter into the world, requires a great deal of given responsibility. The hope is that Carrasco will grasp this responsibility and transform it to the mound in a #2 role on the staff.
Meet sinkerballer #2. Breaking up Carmona and him on back to back games will help them tremendously and help both he and Fausto in the process. At least, this is the hope as the 2011 season opens. The goal is to get him in the mindset to keep his sinkerball from going flat and up in the strike zone. I think if he keep the ball down and keeps attacking the strike zone along with trusting the defense behind him that he can be effective. We shall see what develops as the season begins.
The most consistent of the 5 pitchers earned him the #4 spot even though he was just named yesterday officially to the rotation. Every time I heard about a start or a workout by Tomlin in Spring Training, nothing but positive reports followed. He was pitching better than Mitch Talbot and this earned him the #4 starter position. He had two starts for the Spring. He only gave up 1 run all Spring on 9 hits in two starts against the offensive powerhouses in Texas and Los Angeles Angels. The rest of the outings impressed the coaches and manager when he was placed in intrasquad or B games and today will be another test to help Tomlin before the season. We shall see what happens.
Based on the facts that Mitch Talbot was struggling to get people out by strikeout and that he was not as effective as Josh Tomlin made him the 5th starter. Acta was impressed with how Talbot was getting his sinkerball over for strikes against Prince Fielder for strikes. He also was impressed with Mitch Talbot getting up to 100 pitches in yesterday’s action.
Two side notes in conversation that Acta brings up. One is former Cleveland Indians player and former AAA pitching coach Charlie Nagy’s old line that stated that when pitching you become the #1 starter and when done, the next day you become the #5 starter. Also each starter will not skip turns as the season starts even if days off or cancelled games occur. It will be nice to see each pitcher handle this and not be skipped over. Hopefully the team will respond well also.
Why not Gomez or Huff
Consistency was telling me that Huff and Gomez were showing the most inconsistency among the starters for the Tribe and needed more development than the top 5 starting pitchers named. Still, they were asked to stay ready in case they were needed by the Tribe.
Depth is the name for the young Tribe and isn’t it nice to have. Pitchers that can step in and pitch effectively in a moment’s notice. Now we have a sixth and a seventh starter that need more innings to pitch to get better. The goal is to get better. Having depth can only help this team especially when injuries can occur unfortunatly. Huff and Gomez can help make AAA Columbus also better while waiting for their opportunity in the big leagues. I like having depth. Now the goal is to transfer all this potential and promise into wins for the Cleveland Indians for 2011 This 2011 starting rotation is a start. These are my thoughts. What are yours?
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The Cleveland Indians had the day off yesterday. It was the only one for them until the end of spring training, 15 days to be exact. Here is an observation.
Masterson needs to be more consistent
The starting rotation seems to be set. Already knowing early that Carmona was the Opening Day starter. Masterson seems ready to be in the rotation. He needs to show consistency for me to be more confident in his abilities. However, I am learning to realize that when a pitcher knows that he is going to be in a rotation, runs will pile up because the pitcher is not so focused on results as they are in just getting their work in. Masterson showed how masterful his potential can be when he struck out 5 Cubs in 3 innings without giving up a hit or run. Yet in this last performance, Masterson gave up 5 runs and 7 hits while striking out 4 batters in 4 innings of work. What is needed for me to show more confidence is for Masterson to show more consistency in his outings. If one outing he looks like the next Cy Young and another he looks like the next Juan Eichelberger, then there is going to be a problem competing all year.
Mitch Talbot needs to show me more of this every time.
In Tuesday’s, 3/15/11’s, game, Mitch Talbot looked much, much smoother. 1 run and 6 hits in 5 innings pitched is a job worthy of a rotation spot. Mitch showed that he belonged in the rotation. Like the other pitchers, I think Mitch pitches better with a chip on his professional shoulder, one that says “you stink, prove to me that you belong here.” With his outings before this one, I believe he was out to show the critics that it is spring training and the goal to be ready for the regular season is still in order for Mitch.
Tomlin is in, Huff is out
This is an official opinion. However based on seeing the outing by Huff 4 runs on 6 hits in 2 2/3 innings pitched had me already believing that David Huff would begin the year in AAA Columbus. Tomlin on the other hand, showed major league consistency 1.13 ERA, no runs on 3 hits in 3 innings pitched told me the 5th starter job is his for the beginning of the season and hopefully throughout the season.
Carrasco is pitching now for others besides himself.
Carlos Carrasco is behind the others since he took some time off to help see his son born into the world. This being said he was fairly impressive getting his work in by giving up 3 runs and 6 hits in a 7-2 loss on Sunday. I believe he will start to get better as we get closer to the season. He was listed as a #4 starter this year.
Bringing it together
For the Indians to begin to turn the page on the 2011 season, the rotation, a question mark for the upcoming year, has to be more consistently stronger. All 5 starters (Carmona, Masterson, Talbot, Tomlin (if chosen) and Carrasco have all given impressive outings in at least 1 of their starts this spring. Three of the pitchers gave this in their last outing We fans need to see them getting better for not just a night or two but in consecutive starts. I believe if each person chosen for the 2011 rotation can show more consistent effort, then the hope and optimism will help the fans embrace this team again.
By the way, it is not for lack of love for the team that some of us fans, including myself do not go to games other than Opening Day. It deals with time and schedule. For me, the ability to go to games is difficult because of the schedule. I work much during most of their games. However I will try my best to go to games when I can on my days off. Finances come into play also. All, in all, however, my family will try everything to put forth more consistency in putting ourselves in the stands. Once again, it is my great hope the players can show more consistency for other more casual fans to come back also.