Paul Sancya/Associated Press
Starters (in order): Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, Zach McAllister and Carlos Carrasco
Truthfully, I think Trevor Bauer may be the better option for the fifth spot in the rotation. However, since he is out of options, the team will likely give Carlos Carrasco every opportunity to win the final rotational spot.
The soon-to-be 27-year-old has been radically inconsistent as a big league starter, allowing a 5.53 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP in 40 career starts. Though it's a very small sample size—just 13.2 innings—Carrasco has been monumentally better as a reliever, working to a 1.32 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP in eight appearances out of the bullpen.
Even so, with Bauer and Josh Tomlin as the only other legitimate options for the spot, the team will likely turn to Carrasco every fifth day for at least some portion of the 2014 season.
The rest of the rotation is much more solid.
Though he's been inconsistent over the last four seasons, Justin Masterson will return as the Indians No. 1 starter. Last year, in the same role, Masterson logged 193 innings and pitched to a 3.45 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP while averaging 9.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 2.57 K/BB and 7.3 H/9.
Masterson should see a slight regression in his numbers as his BAbip trends back toward the mean, but he'll be a very effective starter nonetheless.
Corey Kluber could be a fast riser this season, and he may very well outpitch Masterson. Last year, the 27-year-old amassed 147.1 innings pitched with an ERA of 3.85, a WHIP of 1.26 and season averages of 8.3 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 4.12 K/BB and 9.3 H/9.
Danny Slazar will step in as the Indians' third-best starter this season after a breakout minor league campaign in 2013. The 24-year-old came out of nowhere last season and managed a 2.86 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP over 30 starts between the Double-A, Triple-A and big league levels.
Though he's a prime candidate for regression in 2014, Zach McAllister should be a very effective No. 4 starter. In 24 starts at the big league level—he made two in the minors—McAllister worked to a 3.75 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP with averages of 6.8 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 2.06 K/BB and 9.0 H/9.
Overall, the rotation should be decent. The team will lean heavily on their top three starters, and could use a surprise contribution from Carrasco if they hope to return to the playoffs in 2014.