Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Could Matt Garza be the #2 starter the Tribe needs?
I’ve been thumping my chest about Justin Masterson for a few years now.
After an inconsistent 2012, Masterson's 2013 season seems to be proving him a capable No. 1 starter.
Prior to his unwelcome drubbing at the hands of the Tigers on July 5, Masterson had even started to pitch like a true ‘ace’ at times. Despite the setback to Detroit, the big righty figures to put together another solid season where he’ll likely win at least 12-15 games, pitch 200-plus innings and possibly surpass 200 strikeouts, a number he’s never come close to in his career.
Helping Masterson fill out the Cleveland rotation are a pair of comeback candidates and a pitcher whose career minor league ERA is 4.42. Scott Kazmir has pitched about as well as you could hope for a guy who hadn’t been in an MLB rotation since 2010 and had most recently pitched for a team called the ‘Skeeters.’
Ubaldo Jimenez currently has the lowest ERA of his tenure in an Indians' uniform—albeit a mediocre 4.37—and Corey Kluber has more than held his own. By consistently throwing strikes and twice striking out 10 batters in a game, most recently against Detroit’s ‘Murderer’s Row’ of a lineup, ‘CK’ appears to be in the rotation to stay.
Although the Tribe’s patchwork rotation has held it together in the absence of projected third and fourth starters, Brett Myers and Zach McAllister, the Indians need another arm to elevate their rotation from ‘passable’ to ‘respectable’.
While the starters have struck out their fair share of batters (ranking fifth in the AL), they also rank second in the AL in walks surrendered. Anyone who watches baseball knows that walks kill a pitching staff, and it’s no coincidence that the Tigers and their league-leading rotation have issued the third-fewest free passes.
With the ineffective Carlos Carrasco and the effectively wild Trevor Bauer clearly overmatched in their opportunities at nabbing the fifth spot, ‘Bauer Outage’ and ‘CarCar Stinks’ are now both back in the minors.
Danny Salazar, one of Cleveland's few starting pitchers who was raised in the Indians' farm system, will make his MLB debut on Thursday against the Blue Jays.
Until McAllister comes back to resume his spot, Tribe fans can only hope Salazar is the one to help restore order.
In the case he’s unable to do so, the Indians must very seriously consider aggressively going after a legit No. 2 starting pitcher.
As a fan, it’s inspiring to read that the Tribe is interested in Cubs' ace Matt Garza and Brewers' ace Yovanni Gallardo, although both would command a hefty sum in return.
Recent history tells us that gambling top prospects for proven starting pitching can be hit or miss. The Indians seemingly missed when they gave up three of their top pitching prospects to acquire Jimenez, but the rival Tigers have been handsomely rewarded since dealing top prospect Jacob Turner to Miami in order to acquire Anibal Sanchez at the 2012 trading deadline.
Either Garza or Gallardo could help push the Indians into the postseason, but would it be worth potentially giving up a Francisco Lindor, Bauer, Dorssys Paulino or some combination of the three?