Ranking MLB’s Starting Rotations: 20-16

19. Cleveland Indians

  • 1)RHP Corey Kluber
  •  28 years old: 18-9, 2.44 ERA, 235.2 IP, 207 H, 64 ER, 14 HR, 51 BB, 269 K, 1.09 WHIP, 10.27 K/9, 1.95 BB/9, 2.57 xFIP, 7.3 WAR, 1.57 GB/FB, .316BABIP
    • 48.0 percent ground balls, 3,500 pitches, 2,364 strikes.
    • 93.2 MPH FB (52.4), 88.7 MPH CUT (28.0), 82.5 MPH CRV (15.8), 84.9 MPH CH (3.8)
    • Perhaps one of the surprises of last year, though he shouldn’t have been. Drafted in 2007 by San Diego, he was eventually traded to Cleveland in a trade that centered around Jake Westbrook going to St. Louis and Ryan Ludwick going to San Diego. Kluber earned a promotion to Cleveland in 2011, pitching just four and a third innings, and didn’t get consistent innings until 2013, when he went 11-5 with a 3.85 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. It’s not particularly surprising 2014 turned out to be his breakout campaign, though not l many predicted he would win 18 games with a 2.44 ERA and 269 strikeouts. That doesn’t matter now though – the Indians have their ace for the first time since the days of CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee. I don’t think I need to repeat who won that trade, even if it took some time for the results to come. Such is life in trading for prospects.
  • 2)RHP Carlos Carrasco
  • 27 years old: 8-7, 2.55 ERA, 134 IP, 103 H, 38 ER, 7 HR, 29 BB, 140 K, 0.99 WHIP, 9.40 K/9, 1.95 BB/9, 2.66 xFIP, 3.2 WAR, 1.91 GB/FB, .274BABIP
    • 52.8 percent ground balls, 1,956 pitches, 1,327 strikes.
    • 95.3 MPH FB (55.7), 86.3 MPH SL (21.4), 88.6 MPH CH (13.5), 80.9 MPH CRV (9.4)
    • Carrasco is another trade I would debate that the Indians won, or at least, will win. Unless you lived under the proverbial baseball rock in 2009, Carrasco was part of a trade that sent previously mentioned Lee from Cleveland to Philly, and coming off a 22-3 season in 2008, Lee was clearly the biggest piece of the trade. Undoubtedly, Lee has proved himself as one of the best veteran pitchers in the game. But since trading him, Lee has made a total of $91.5 million off other teams, and that freedom has allowed Cleveland to develop and build an offense, a better staff and bullpen, which they were in need of at the time of the Lee trade, and are better in every aspect now than Philadelphia. Carrasco struggled in stints in the majors from 2009-13, with an 11-19 record, but a demotion to the bullpen last year helped him. In his first four starts of the year, he was 1-3 with a 6.95 mark, and from April 30 to August 5, he was a reliever, posting a 2.30 ERA in 26 appearances. And when he returned to the rotation, he looked like the guy the Indians were hoping they traded for in 2009, with a 1.30 ERA and .179 opponent’s average in ten starts. Cleveland may miss Lee and Sabathia, but they came out in better shape than both of the teams who currently have them.
  • 3)RHP Trevor Bauer
  •  23 years old: 5-8, 4.18 ERA, 153 IP, 151 H, 71 ER, 16 HR, 60 BB, 143 K, 1.38 WHIP, 8.41 K/9, 2.53 BB/9, 4.14 xFIP, 1.3 WAR, 0.85 GB/FB, .312BABIP
    • 41.3 percent fly balls, 2,591 pitches, 1,620 strikes.
    • 94.0 MPH FB (49.7), 86.0 MPH CUT (13.2), 78.3 MPH CRV (12.4), 81.1 MPH SL (10.6), 83.5 MPH CH (8.7), 87.5 MPH SPL (5.5)
    • Bauer, frequently ranked as one of the top prospects in the league in preseason lists from 2012-14, was drafted third overall by Arizona in 2011, and traded two years later, along with Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw, to Cleveland, for Didi Gregorius, Tony Sipp, and Lars Anderson. Bauer is a six-pitch pitcher, whose motion and mechanics resemble – well not just resemble, are identical to – that of Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum. Bauer studied “The Freak” during his upbringing and has been very influential in his career. While Lincecum was very successful early on in his career, Bauer hasn’t enjoyed the same accomplishments early on, but Bauer definitely has promise, as he’s shown steady improvement, and last year had a not terrible 4.18 ERA (at least for a 23-year-old with very little experience). He’s definitely a guy Cleveland has high hopes for moving forward, and behind Kluber and Carrasco, has a lot of potential as the third guy in the staff.
  • 4)RHP Gavin Floyd
  •  31 years old: 2-2, 2.65 ERA, 54.1 IP, 55 H, 16 ER, 6 HR, 13 BB, 45 K, 1.25 WHIP, 7.45 K/9, 2.15 BB/9, 3.47 xFIP, 0.5 WAR, 1.61 GB/FB, .302BABIP
    • 49.4 percent ground balls, 831 pitches, 540 strikes.
    • 91.9 MPH FB (57.5), 86.1 MPH CUT (18.0), 80.9 MPH CRV (17.5), 84.9 MPH CH (7.0)
    • It’s hard to believe Floyd is only 31. He broke into the majors at just 20 in 2004, and caught on in 2008 with Chicago, where he went 62-56 over the next five seasons. After signing a one-year deal with Atlanta, and having a decent start, with a 2.65 ERA in nine starts, he suffered a fractured olecranon, missing the rest of the season. On December 16th, the Indians decided to take a gamble, signing him to a one-year deal. Floyd doesn’t come without injury history, but healthy, he’s always been a dependable hurler.
  • 5)RHP Danny Salazar
  • 24 years old: 6-8, 4.25 ERA, 110 IP, 117 H, 52 ER, 13 HR, 35 BB, 120 K, 1.38 WHIP, 9.82 K/9, 2.86 BB/9, 3.45 xFIP, 1.8 WAR, 0.82 GB/FB, .343BABIP
    • 42.2 percent fly balls, 1,869 pitches, 1,193 strikes, 11.0 swinging strikes
    • 94.6 MPH FB (76.0), 84.0 MPH CH (12.9), 86.1 MPH SL (11.0), 78.5 MPH CRV (0.1)
    • Salazar, along with Bauer, Carrasco, and even House, are young guys in the rotation whose best days appear to be ahead. He went 6-8 last season, but misses a lot of bats (9.82 K/9), and is a very attractive option out of the back-end of a talented rotation. This staff ranks 19th, but will only move up as guys like Salazar, Carrasco, Bauer, and if/when Floyd gets hurt, guys like T.J. House will have to step up. The P-word is a curse for most baseball-related predictions, especially young pitchers, but it’s required for a staff like this – they have massive potential.
  • Other possible contributors:
    • LHP T.J. House
    •  25 years old: 5-3, 3.35 ERA, 102 IP
      • Pitched well in 102 innings last year, developed as a starter, with 142 minor league starts.
      • 91 MPH FB, 84 MPH SL, 82 MPH CH, 76 MPH CRV
    • RHP Josh Tomlin,
    • 30 years old: 6-9, 4.76 ERA, 104 IP
      • At 30, his best days are behind him; appears destined for the ‘pen.
      • 89 MPH FB, 86 MPH CUT, 76 MPH CRV, 82 MPH CH
    • RHP Zach McAllister
    •  27 years old: 4-7, 5.23 ERA, 86 IP
      • With guys like Floyd in the rotation, the development of House and McAllister will be crucial.
      • 93 MPH FB, 83 MPH SL, 78 MPH CRV, 81 MPH CH, 88 MPH SPL

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