Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 58: TJ House
Danny Madden | On 06, Feb 2016
As Did The Tribe Win Last Night helps fans count down the days until the Indians retake the field in an official Major League game, we look back at some of the players who wore the Cleveland jersey with pride.
Countdown to Opening Day – 58 days
If the redo button was a real thing that anyone could hit at any point in time, it would probably be very abused if we’re being honest. When it comes to 2015 though, I would bet that lefty T.J. House wishes he could take a redo on his last year.
House, 26, came into the 2015 season with almost a guaranteed lock on the fifth spot in the rotation. In his rookie season in 2014, he put together some pretty promising numbers that could have led to the Indians having another solid lefty in the rotation after losing Scott Kazmir to free agency the winter before. In 2014, He put up a 3.35 ERA in 18 starts and posted a record of 5-3 in 102 innings of work. In that span, he struck out 7.06 batters per nine innings, along with only walking 1.94.
House is an extreme ground ball pitcher. He had a 60.9% GB% in 2014. The fact that he’s such a ground ball pitcher, and was able to keep his ERA at 3.35, was just incredible. The Indians were dead last in errors in 2014, and were by far the worst defensive team in the majors. His xFIP sat at 3.10, which really goes to show how effectively House was able to pitch in 2014. Even though he’s an extreme ground ball pitcher, he was able to find other ways of getting outs, aside from just the ground ball.
Velocity is not something that House excels in. He tends to sit around the low 90’s, but has great breaking pitches to induce ground balls. He was able to keep his line drive rate at 21.5%, and fly balls down to 17.7%. That is pretty good for someone’s first year in the majors.
Coming into spring training, it was going to be between Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin, Zach McAllister, Gavin Floyd and House for the last two spots in the rotation. With Floyd getting injured, and Salazar struggled out of the gates, House was awarded the rotation spot, along with McAllister. Both of them did not stay in the rotation for very long.
House struggled coming out the gates. In his first game of the season, against the Detroit Tigers, he only went one and one-third innings and gave up six runs. He then followed that performance with giving up 13 more runs over eleven and two-thirds innings before he was removed from the rotation. It later came to light that House was pitching through a left shoulder injury that sidelined him the majority of the season. House never returned to Cleveland in 2015 and only made seven more starts in the entire season.
He was never able to get himself completely healthy in 2015, which has completely hindered him for 2016 as well. With the rotation pretty much already set with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Salazar, Trevor Bauer and either Tomlin or Cody Anderson, there seems to be no real place for House right now on this roster. Having pitching depth is great, but having someone like House just wait his time in Columbus is kind of a waste.
Another option for House is to bring him up to the majors in a relief role. As of right now, the only lefty that is in the pen is Kyle Crockett, who even still has question marks surrounding him. Giovanni Soto is another promising option, but outside of that, the lefty specialist option is pretty thin. If House is healthy, he has shown himself to be dominant on the mound. If there’s no place for him in the rotation right now, why not throw him into the bullpen? There’s a possibility that Terry Francona may want him to stay in Columbus so that way he’s stretched out enough to make a spot start if they need him to, but there just seems to be better ways to cash in on his value if he is at least given a role in the bullpen on opening day.
If both Tomlin and Anderson struggle in spring, and House ends up being a more clear cut option coming out the gates, then there’s a chance that Tomlin could start in the pen, with Anderson going back to Triple-A Columbus. As of right now though, it looks like the future for House is unclear. He’ll need to come into spring training and show the Indians that he is healthy and ready to contribute again. Having a strong southpaw out of the pen can be huge for a team, and the Indians haven’t had very many great options the last couple of seasons, outside of Marc Rzepczynski. If House is to find his way to being on the roster on opening day, he’ll need to have a solid spring and find a way to stay healthy.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images