With Carrasco to the ‘Pen, Should Bauer or Tomlin Be In?
Laurel Wilder | On 01, May 2014
Ah, it’s that time of the season already – the lovely Tribe Slump that comes with a streak of losing games. However, if there’s one good thing that can come out of a slumping team, it’s the fact that those in charge and the decision makers now are forced to examine the lineups and team decisions they made throughout the beginning of the season. In doing so, they can begin to see where the flaws in player placement are, which players have been producing and were given the “right” spots, and which players need to be reevaluated and, possibly, moved about the roster.
With pitching being the ever-present worry on the mind of both fans and the team alike, it makes sense that the relocation of pitchers would be one of the first adjustments made by the Tribe during less-than-perfect stretches of games. In a move that did not seem to surprise many fans – and, in fact, seemed to be more welcomed than anything – starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco was moved to the bullpen earlier this week, leaving a new spot open in the starting rotation.
Despite being a starter for the majority of his career, Carrasco has shown more potential in recent seasons pitching later in the game in a relief role than starting. In his start on April 11, Carrasco claimed that he was tired after two innings of work, striking apprehension into the hearts of fans – and Tribe staff. Pitching Coach Mickey Callaway was quoted as saying he was unsure why Carrasco would be tired after two innings, stating he had trouble with mechanical adjustments that were made during the offseason. But tired? Callaway was unsure where that came from.
Tiring after only a few innings of work is only one of the reasons a move to the bullpen will suit Carrasco better in the long run. However, with the now-open spot in the starting rotation, the decision must be made as to which minor league starter will be called up to fill in.
The clear favorite in the decision has emerged as Trevor Bauer, thought Josh Tomlin’s name has also been tossed around as a possibility. Though Tomlin has more of the first-hand Major League experience, and a more steady proven track record of success in the bigs, Bauer’s impressive start to the 2014 season have him moving to the top of the list of potential Tribe starters.
Thought Tomlin had a stronger Spring Training showing than Bauer – Tomlin went 1-1 with a 3.54 ERA in five games, including three starts, while Bauer went 0-1 and posted 10.29 in four games with one start – Bauer’s regular season numbers in AAA Columbus blow Tomlin’s stats away.
Bauer has started four games for the Clippers, and currently boasts a 3-0 record and a 1.40 ERA. He has pitched 25.2 innings, giving up 18 hits and allowing four runs, all earned. He had given up one home run, walked seven batters, and fanned 28.
Tomlin, on the other hand, has also started four games, but is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA – hardly a poor showing but, compared to Bauer, the numbers do not suggest his being the first call-up to replace Carrasco. Tomlin has pitched a total of 26.0 innings with 19 hits, eight earned runs, three homers, nine walks, and 18 strikeouts.
One of the most promising reasons to bring Bauer up to Cleveland before Tomlin has to also be Bauer’s extremely impressive spot start on April 9. Despite being named the losing pitcher and now being saddled with an 0-1 Major League record for the season, Bauer pitched a lights-out game against the San Diego Padres. He pitched a full six innings, allowing four hits, two runs (one earned), walking two, and striking out eight. He held batters to a .182 average and now posts a 1.50 MLB ERA for 2014.
This performance is a vast improvement over the Major League Bauer of last season. In his 2013 spot starts, Bauer was, to say the least, a nerve-wracking pitcher to watch. He went 1-2 in 17 innings of work throughout four MLB games last season, giving up 15 hits, 11 runs, walking 16, and striking out only 11 the whole season. He posted a 5.29 ERA.
His work in the minors is also vastly improved, with the walk numbers being one of the biggest indicators of improved pitching this season. Bauer walked 73 batters last season in AAA, and went 6-7 with a 4.15 ERA in 22 games.
It seems that the offseason and Spring Training have helped develop Bauer into the prospect the organization felt they were gaining when he was acquired prior to the 2013 season. Tomlin, having just come off a season marred by his August 2012 Tommy John surgery, is still working his way back to the strong production he had prior to his injury. It will take time but, when looking at the Tribe’s immediate need for a starter who will produce and not tire during their outings, there seems to be no contest.
Bauer has taken the time and put in the effort needed to harness his talents and move himself to the big league stage. It’s now the fans’ – and the organization’s – turn to do him the favor he deserves, and give him a chance at the big league role. He blew our minds once this season, and it seems only deserving that he get the chance to do so again.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images