2011 MLB Predictions: Cleveland Indians Starting Rotation Without a Lefty?

Jim Berdysz@@JBirdman27Correspondent IJanuary 14, 2011

2011 MLB Predictions: Cleveland Indians Starting Rotation Without a Lefty?

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    CLEVELAND - JULY 28:  Fausto Carmona #55 of the Cleveland Indians throws a first inning pitch while playing the New York Yankees on July 28, 2010 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    It's almost that time of year again. In exactly one month, Cleveland Indians pitchers and catchers will report to Goodyear, Arizona to kick-off Spring Training and the 2011 Major League Baseball season. Yes, I know things can change from now until February 14, but lets just say, if the season started today, what starting pitchers would make up the Tribe's five-man rotation?

    Every baseball fan knows pitching wins championships, but will the Tribe be heading north to Cleveland without a single left-handed starter in their rotation? We just had two of the best left-handed starting pitchers in the game a little over two seasons ago, in former Cy Young Award winners C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee didn't we?

    Will those vacant shoes finally be filled in 2011?

    Here is a look at the Indians starting rotation as it stands today.

1. Fausto Carmona

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    2010 stats

    Record: 13-14

    ERA: 3.77

    Innings pitched: 210.1

    72 BB / 124 SO

    Fausto Carmona finally had the bounce back year Tribe fans were looking for in 2010. He not only finished with the lowest ERA and most wins on the Tribe in 2010, but he was also the Indians' lone representative at the 2010 All-Star Game.

    He will once again be looked upon to lead the Tribe staff as the ace of the starting rotation in 2011. Carmona, as it stands right now, will have the most Major League experience in the rotation come Opening Day.

2. Justin Masterson

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    BALTIMORE - MAY 14:  Justin Masterson #63 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on May 14, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    2010 stats

    Record: 6-13

    ERA: 4.70

    Innings pitched: 180

    73 BB / 140 SO

    He's a starter. No, a reliever. Now he's a starter again. Can we finally put an end to this debate in 2011? Justin Masterson will remain a starter and will certainly make the Indians starting rotation this season. It did not start well for the former Red Sox pitcher though, as Masterson did not pick up his first win in 2010 until June.

    Masterson did end up finishing the season strong for the Tribe, as he went 3-3 with a 2.88 ERA in 56.2 innings from the beginning of August through the end of the regular season. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come from one of the key pieces of the Victor Martinez trade in 2009. 

3. Carlos Carrasco

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    2010 MLB stats (7 starts)

    Record: 2-2

    ERA: 3.83

    Innings pitched: 44.2

    14 BB / 38 SO

    One of the key pieces in the Cliff Lee trade to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009, Carlos Carrasco will more than likely win a starting rotation spot in 2011. Judging by what he did in 2010, Carrasco certainly deserves a chance to finally show fans what he can do in a full big league season.

    While he was only a September call-up last season, Carrasco did put up much better numbers in his second call-up with the Tribe than he did with his first trip to Cleveland. Before being called up, Carrasco posted a record of 10-6 with a 3.65 ERA in 25 starts with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. He also finished his minor league stint as one of the top five strikeout leaders of the International League, striking out 133 in 150.1 innings.

    Carrasco, at just 23 years old, is just one of the many young Indians players fans can look forward to seeing in 2011, as he very well could be poised for a breakout season.

4. Mitch Talbot

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    2010 stats

    Record: 10-13

    ERA: 4.41

    Innings pitched: 159.1

    69 BB / 88 SO

    In just his first big league season, Mitch Talbot did fairly well with the Indians in 2010. For Talbot, though, it was a tale of two halves, as he seemed to do great for the Tribe until the month of July.

    From April through the end of June, Talbot was 8-6 with a 3.88 ERA in 97.1 innings pitched. From July through the end of the season, though, he went just 2-7 with a 5.22 ERA in 62 innings.

    Which Talbot will we see in 2011?

    Now he should be able to win a starting rotation job in Spring Training, as his 10 wins last season were the second most on the team. If Talbot shows any signs of the kind of pitcher he was in the second half last year, the Indians may have to look both internally and possibly externally to replace him.

5a. Josh Tomlin

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    ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Josh Tomlin #43 of the Cleveland Indians throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on September 8, 2010 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    2010 MLB stats (12 starts)

    Record: 6-4

    ERA: 4.56

    Innings pitched: 73.0

    19 BB / 43 SO

    For a rookie, Josh Tomlin showed some big things with the Tribe in 2010, one of them being his first Major League start against the Yankees. Tomlin went seven strong innings giving up just one earned run on three hits, earning his first Major League victory.

    Before getting the call to Cleveland, Tomlin also had success in Triple-A with the Columbus Clippers. He went 8-4 with a 2.68 ERA and striking out 80 in 107.1 innings pitched. Look for the native of Texas to make a name for himself in what it looks to be, his first full season with the Indians in 2011. 

5b. Jeanmar Gomez

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    2010 MLB stats (11 starts)

    Record: 4-5

    ERA: 4.68

    Innings pitched: 57.2

    22 BB / 34 SO

    Like Tomlin, rookie Jeanmar Gomez also showed signs of success with the Indians in 2011. Will he make the Opening Day starting rotation? That question has yet to be determined. In his first eight starts with the Tribe, Gomez went 3-3 with a 3.06 ERA in 44 innings . A pretty successful start in the big leagues for a 22 year old.

    Before getting the call up to the big leagues last season, Gomez posted a record of 8-8 and an ERA of 5.20 at Triple-A. Hopefully with his major league success, he can forget his minor league woes and become a standout starter for the Indians in 2011. 

No Lefties?

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    NEW YORK - MAY 29:  David Huff #28  of the Cleveland Indians pitches against The New York Yankees during their game on May 29, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx Borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    David Huff is the only left-handed starter I could see making the rotation out of Spring Training. Like many Indians fans though, I have yet to be sold on the former 2006 first round pick.

    2010 MLB stats (15 starts)

    Record: 2-11

    ERA: 6.21

    Innings pitched: 79.2

    34 BB / 38 SO

    Huff has been anything but a former first-round pick the Indians thought they were getting out of UCLA. In 38 career starts with the Tribe, Huff is 13-19 with a 5.84 ERA. He will be 27 years old in August and the Indians have to be wondering if time has simply run out on the southpaw.

    The Indians did send Huff down to Triple-A last season in late August and his numbers rebounded, posting a record of 8-2 with a 4.36 ERA. Huff also cut down on his walks in the minors, walking 21 while striking out 52 in 74.1 innings.

    He does need a big Spring Training, but David Huff could very well be the Indians' only left-handed starter come Opening Day 2011.

    For fans wondering about lefty Aaron Laffey, look for him to be permanently placed in the bullpen, where he will become a bigger asset to the club in long or even middle relief.

Minor League Options: Alex White

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    Alex White is definitely one Indians pitcher to keep an eye on throughout the 2011 season. If any Indians starter should struggle at the outset of season, look for the Tribe to fill that pitching void internally. Filling that role could very well be White, the former North Carolina Tar Heel and Indians 2009 first round draft pick.

    At Double-A Akron last season, White finished 8-7 with a remarkable 2.28 ERA and striking out 76 in 106.2 innings pitched. With Cleveland hungry to finally fill the hole left by both Sabathia and Lee, Alex White could very easily be the guy the Indians have been waiting for to anchor their starting rotation in the near future.


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