Cleveland Indians: Top Prospect Zach McAllister to Make Next Start with Tribe?

Jim BerdyszCorrespondent IJune 22, 2011

Let's face it, in order for any winning team to have a shot at a World Series title throughout the regular season, the team must consistently have one thing: Pitching.

Despite their recent losing ways, the Cleveland Indians are still in first place in the American League Central Division, and still a team in a pennant race boasting a record of 39-33.

Since the Indians' bullpen has been virtually lights out during the first two months of the season, the real focus must turn to the Tribe's starting pitching—most notably, Fausto Carmona.

Is it finally time for Cleveland to take the struggling Carmona out of the rotation? To an average Indians fan, the answer would probably be yes. When it comes to the Indians ownership though, you may be somewhat surprised to hear they too could be ready to make a change to the Tribe's starting rotation.

In fact, plans may be already in place to move Fausto out of the rotation fairly soon, as GM Chris Antonetti traveled to Columbus yesterday to watch the Indians Triple-A affiliate Columbus Clippers take on the Toledo Mud Hens last night, according to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer.

The Clippers have a slew of starting pitching depth and prospects the Tribe could turn to that could help the Indians bolster their starting staff as early as next week.

Pitching last night for Columbus was one of those pitching prospects in 23-year old right-hander Zach McAllister.

Acquired from the New York Yankees last season in the trade that sent Indians outfielder Austin Kearns to the Big Apple, McAllister has been everything Cleveland could ask for so far in his time in the Tribe's farm system.

So far in 2011, the 6-foot-6, 240 pound McAllister has been absolutely dominating in his 13 starts for the Clippers this season. On the year, McAllister is 8-2 with a 2.82 ERA in 83 innings pitched, walking 19 and striking out 64. He also has two complete games and one shutout on the young season, a 1.06 WHIP, and has held opposing hitters to a dismal .228 average.

To take the kind of season McAllister is having one step further, the Indians prospect has also been one of the notable pitching leaders throughout the Triple-A International League. McAllister is not only tied for first in the International League in wins, but also ranks second in WHIP, sixth in ERA and innings pitched and is tied for ninth in strikeouts.

Promoting McAllister to the Indians would be a way of telling Indians fans that the Tribe will do anything they can to keep the pennant race alive this summer. It would also show the city of Cleveland that ownership is concerned for their team and wants to try and put a winning team on the field night in and night out.

So many times over the last few seasons, Indians ownership has been getting the brunt from fans disappointed or angry at how the Tribe brass has gone about business in trying to put a winning team together.

A move like this could very well silence these fans and finally create somewhat of a trust between the front office and the stands for the rest of the season and even beyond.

So could McAllister end up making his MLB debut with the Indians by next month? There's a very good possibility.

Five days from now, Carmona is slated to pitch in San Francisco in the series finale against the San Francisco Giants, a game that also happened to be picked up by ESPN as the Sunday Night Baseball game of the week.

Also slated to pitch on Sunday happens to be McAllister for Columbus.

Could McAllister fill Carmona's spot in the rotation as early as this Sunday against the Giants on Sunday Night Baseball?

That we'll have to wait and see.