The Cleveland Indians addressed one of their two obvious needs when they acquired outfielder Kosuke Fukudome from the Chicago Cubs on Thursday. They also need a starting pitcher and general manager Chris Antonetti has stated that the team will be going after one before the trade deadline expires on July 31.
Here is a list of five starting pitchers the Indians should target if they want to reach the playoffs.
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda is perhaps the best pitcher on this year’s trading block and there are several contenders in the American League inquiring about his services. The Indians, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees are all looking at him, so the price for Kuroda could be steep.
But the price would be worth it for the Indians, who remain in contention even after several difficult stretches this season. They have plenty of pitchers within the organization they could offer in return for Kuroda and his arm would bring stability to a rotation that has been inconsistent throughout the year.
Kuroda and his 3.11 ERA would fit nicely at the top of the Indians rotation after Justin Masterson and a Kuroda-Masterson combination would be hard to stop in a best-of-five playoff series.
San Diego Padres pitcher Aaron Harang has been having a renaissance year with the Padres after three lackluster seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. Unfortunately, the Padres are already out of contention and have put him on the trading block.
It would be wrong to credit his impressive 3.45 ERA solely to the spacious dimensions of Petco Park. Harang is 4-0 in road games and pitched well in two of his three no-decision starts away from San Diego.
Harang is not the desired number two starter that Kuroda is, but he is still an upgrade and would allow the Indians to move erratic starter Fausto Carmona to the bullpen.
Like many pitchers the Indians are looking at, the Red Sox and Yankees have been scouting Harden as a trade option. The Indians haven’t shown any explicit interest in Harden, but they would be wise to chase him if deals for Kuroda and Harang don’t materialize.
Harden would be an excellent option if the Tribe can deal for him without digging too deeply into their farm system.
The Detroit Tigers have been interested in Washington Nationals pitcher Jason Marquis, so plucking him from the trade block would be a major blow to the Tigers. Marquis has an impressive 8-5 record and a 3.95 ERA in 2011.
The Nationals have been vague about the likelihood of dealing Marquis, but he could still be available even after the trade deadline—he is expected to clear waivers in August. At that point, he would be an intriguing option if the Indians can’t get a pitcher before the deadline passes.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie is another pitcher the Tigers are interested in, so the benefits of getting him would be two-fold for the Indians. He’s has a terrible 4-14 record this season, but much of that is due to him playing on a bad Orioles team.
The Indians have shown virtually no interest in him and the chances of acquiring him are slim. However, if they did trade for Guthrie he would be a nice fit for the team since he does not pitch many innings and would leave most of his starts in good hands with the Indians’ strong bullpen.