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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | February 20, 2019

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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 43

Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 43

| On 13, Feb 2019

Major League Baseball will kick off the 2019 season with its earliest start ever (excluding international openers) as all 30 teams will take the field on March 28. Follow along with Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we count down the days until Opening Day 2019. – BT

Countdown to Opening Day – 43 days

The longest tenured member of the Cleveland Indians organization at the end of the 2018 season and the team’s longest representative in the number 43 in franchise history has moved on this winter, as Josh Tomlin’s free agency experience came to a close last week when he signed a one-year minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers with an invitation to spring training. If he makes the Brewers’ roster, he will make $1.25 million, with another $2.25 million available in performance bonuses.

Tomlin had several years of service over his next closest teammate, in terms of years of employment by the Indians. A 19th round draft pick in 2006 out of Texas Tech, Tomlin signed on June 9 of that year and had been a part of the Cleveland organization ever since.

When Tomlin made his big league debut for the Indians on July 27, 2010, it ended a curiously long drought for the number 43, which had been largely absent from Jacobs Field/Progressive Field for the majority of its existence. Tomlin ushered the number back into use in impressive fashion, throwing seven innings of one-run, three-hit baseball in a home win over the New York Yankees.

For a starting pitcher, that’s how you start a Major League career.

Tomlin made 12 starts in total in his debut season, going 6-4 with a 4.56 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. It led to a role in the starting rotation for the following season, when he went 12-7 with a 4.25 ERA and a much improved 1.08 WHIP while leading all of baseball with just 1.1 walks per nine innings. Pinpoint accuracy has been a strength for Tomlin throughout his career, and he has made a nine-year career to date as a softer tossing right-hander because of it.

Tomlin struggled in 2012 as his walk rate doubled (to a still respectable 2.2) and the ball continued to fly out of the yard against him. He went 5-8 with a 6.36 ERA and spent five games in the bullpen, but there was a bigger issue at play as he was shut down in August with right elbow inflammation. The real issue underneath the swelling was a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament and Tommy John surgery followed.

Tomlin – Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Somehow, Tomlin made a rapid recovery from his UCL surgery and returned to action late in the 2013 season. He made ten appearances in the minors on his comeback trail and pitched two scoreless innings for the Indians on September 12. He started the following season in Columbus and bounced back and forth several times, but he largely made a home for himself in the Indians rotation. Right shoulder surgery cost him more than four months of his 2015 campaign (he returned to go 7-2 in ten starts with a pair of complete games, a 3.02 ERA, and a 0.84 WHIP).

After going 13-9 during the Indians’ march to October in 2016, he was a key part of the team’s success when the starting rotation was decimated by injuries late in the year. He won two starts and lost one in four postseason starting nods. He followed it up with a reliable 10-9 effort with a 4.98 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP at the back end of the team’s rotation in 2017, but a left hamstring strain limited him to 26 starts. He earned a relief win while serving the club out of the bullpen in the Tribe’s gut-wrenching ALDS loss to the New York Yankees that year, giving Cleveland a pair of scoreless appearances over three innings.

Tomlin was supposed to complete the rotation in 2018, but an unsightly rate of home runs (25 in just 70 1/3 innings on the year) led to his removal from the starting staff, replaced by Adam Plutko and Shane Bieber over the remainder of the year. He made nine starts and 23 relief appearances, ending his last season with the Indians with a 2-5 record, a 6.14 ERA, and a 1.48 WHIP, all of which were among the worst marks of his career. A right hamstring strain also limited his time on the mound, as he lost a month and a half to the ailment in the summer.

The only players other than Tomlin to wear 43 during the new era of Tribe baseball were pitcher Chris Nabholz (in the park’s inaugural season in 1994) and reliever Doug Jones (a man with strong ties to old Cleveland Stadium who wore it during his return to the team in 1998).

With both Tomlin and Michael Brantley gone via free agency this offseason, the Indians’ longest tenured players in the organization and with the parent club are both no longer around as the youth movement continues to take place in Cleveland. Tomlin’s reputation as a good guy and a hard worker, and his role as a postseason hero in 2016, will leave him a nice legacy among Indians fans. Now 34, he will look to catch on with a new club, the Brewers, for the first time while looking to extend his playing career a little bit longer as it enters its twilight phase. It will be an odd and bittersweet spring for the veteran, who will spend his February and March in the familiar Arizona, but instead of taking of residence in Goodyear, he will call Maryvale (Phoenix) home. It will mark just his third different spring training home in his pro career, following the Tribe’s 2009 move from Winter Haven, Florida, back to Arizona.

Other notables to wear #43 in Indians’ history (21 players in total): Cal Dorsett (the first to do so in 1940), Chuck Tanner (1959), Lee Stange (1964-66), Vicente Romo (1968-69), Juan Pizarro (1969), Milt Wilcox (1973-74), Dave LaRoche (1975), Sid Monge (1977-81), Rick Sutcliffe (1982-84), Scott Bailes (1986-89), Cliff Young (1993)

Photo: Getty Images

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Miss out on our other Countdown pieces? Check out more Indians history below.

Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 99
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 90 – Adam Cimber
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 88
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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 76
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 75
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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 72
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 71
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 70
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 69
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 68
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 67
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 66
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 65
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 64
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 63
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 62
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 61 – Dan Otero
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 60
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 59 – Carlos Carrasco
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 58 – Neil Ramirez
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 57 – Shane Bieber
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 56 – Cody Anderson
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 55 – Roberto Perez
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 54
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 53
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 52 – Mike Clevinger
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 51
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 50
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 49 – Tyler Olson
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 48
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 47 – Trevor Bauer
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 46 – Jon Edwards
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 45 – Adam Plutko
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 44 – Nick Goody

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