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Francona Gets the Awards, but Pitching Coach Mickey Callaway is his Secret Weapon.
Heading into the 2013 season, it was clear that the Indians pitching staff was a mess. Youngsters like Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister had yet to prove anything in the majors. Ubaldo Jimenez was a mess, Justin Masterson was coming off a very poor season and Scott Kazmir had been out of baseball for years.
By the end of 2013, though, all five of those starting pitchers had turned a corner and helped form a very young, reliable rotation.
What was the common thread in this development? That would be Cleveland pitching coach Mickey Callaway.
"The thing about Mickey is that he doesn't only have good advice to give you, he's also a good listener," Jimenez said, per Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "That's a huge thing."
While Kazmir and Jimenez will need to be replaced in 2014, Cleveland fans should be confident that Callaway will continue to develop the young guns that will be dressed in red and blue. Masterson, Kluber and McAllister will return, while late-season sensation Danny Salazar is expected to be a big factor in his first full season.
That leaves one spot in the rotation.
Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco will likely compete for the spot. Both pitchers have dynamic arms but almost zero success in the majors and questions about their makeup. This is where Callaway can work his magic. If he can help just one of these pitchers reach his potential, the Indians could showcase one of the best young pitching staffs in baseball.
In the AL Central, pitching wins divisions.