Cleveland Indians Rotation: Who Should Be the Tribe's 5th Starter?
The Cleveland Indians' rotation in 2011 has been a microcosm of the Tribe's season: perplexing.
Once one of the strengths of the squad in the first few months, enough question marks began to arise to force general manager Chris Antonetti's hand into acquiring Colorado Rockies' ace Ubaldo Jimenez.
With the acquisition of Jimenez, one of Cleveland's starting five has to be bumped from the rotation into either the minors or the bullpen.
So which starter should get the axe?
The leading two candidates are Carlos Carrasco and David Huff.
Huff was demoted on August 2nd, but many still believe he will be recalled when eligible on August 13th to take away Carrasco's rotation spot. The only reason that Huff was sent down over Carrasco is because Carrasco has a six-game suspension to fulfill.
Carrasco was very effective in the first half, but the second half has not been very friendly to the 24-year-old.
This slideshow will point out the pros and cons of each young hurler to determine the best pitcher to aid the Indians in a postseason push.
Pros of David Huff
He does this weird thing with his left arm....
Huff does something amazing: He pitches lefty!
For the entire season, the Indians have boasted a completely righty rotation. While it worked for awhile, they could afford to have a solid southpaw every fifth day, as many of the best American League batters are left-handed.
He's the hot hand....or arm
Called up for a three-start cup of coffee, Huff performed admirably against some tough lineups.
The former first-round pick finally started to pitch like it, particularly when he hurled seven scoreless innings against the Twins. He also shut down the Red Sox which boast the best lineup in baseball. Both starts were on the road.
He's having one of his best seasons in the minors
Huff breezed threw the minor-league ranks to start off his professional career, but in 2009 he started to tail off. He flopped in a stint in the majors and only had a 4.35 ERA at Triple-A. In 2010, he had much more of the same with a 4.36 ERA with five more starts than his 2009 stint.
But 2011 has been much nicer for the young southpaw. He has a 3.86 ERA in 17 Triple-A starts. With three strong Major League Baseball starts and a quality season at Triple-A, Huff has much more confidence on the mound.
Pros of Carlos Carrasco
He has more sustained success at the Major League Baseball level
Well, it depends on how you define "success," but Carrasco does have a better Major League Baseball ERA in his three years as compared to Huff's three. Carrasco has a career 4.97 ERA as opposed to Huff's 5.42.
Still, Huff has only shown competence in Cleveland in his recent three starts. Carrasco had a great seven-start stint in 2010 where he held a 3.83 ERA. The 24-year-old righty also had a fantastic June with a 1.90 ERA. His 4.67 ERA is mostly blown up by his horrible month of July.
He has a much better strikeout rate
While it's not saying much, Carrasco does miss a lot more bats than Huff. Carrasco's career K/9 of 6.3 is not anything to get excited over, but it beats the hell out of Huff's pathetic 4.7 rate.
Cons of David Huff
He was one of the worst starters in 2009 and 2010
Remember when we all hated Huff? Despite inexplicably holding an 11-8 record in 2009, he still had a 5.61 ERA. And 2011 was even uglier, where he only mustered a 2-11 record to pair with his 6.21 ERA.
In 2010, his BB/9 rate was a ridiculous 3.8. His HR/9 rate was also 1.6, both numbers that should not be held by a Major League Baseball starter.
If he was the better pitcher, he would've won the job out of spring training
Carrasco entered spring training virtually guaranteed a rotation spot while Huff's story was much different. He was beat out by the likes of Mitch Talbot, who is currently nowhere near the Major League Baseball radar. The organization obviously had no faith in their former top pick, so why should three starts in July and August suddenly change that?
Cons of Carlos Carrasco
His July was Fausto Carmona-esque
That's almost a compliment to Carmona. Carrasco's July ERA was 9.13. He was giving up over a run an inning for an entire month and only now is it under consideration to remove him from the rotation.
He had a solid start against the Red Sox to start the month of August, giving up only two runs over seven innings, but he also coughed up nine hits and issued three free passes.
He's another righty
This mostly ties into Huff's biggest pro, but Carrasco is yet another right-handed starter in a Cleveland uniform. With only two lefties on the entire roster, it might be best for Carrasco to get the demotion or bullpen assignment instead of Huff.
In my own opinion, Huff should get to pitch every fifth day instead of Carrasco.
I like Carrasco better as a starter down the road, but right now Huff is more crucial to a Tribe playoff run. It's mostly due to his southpaw status, but I want to see more out of the 26-year-old.
In the meantime, Carrasco should remain on the active roster. He could take over the long-relief role from Frank Herrmann who could be demoted to Triple-A Columbus.
In case Huff reverts into the Huff of old, they won't have to make a roster move and instead just switch the two. They could decide to send Huff down to Triple-A if he struggles also.
Both pitchers have the ability to be successful at the Major League Baseball level, and it really only comes down to personal preference in this argument.
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