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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | February 26, 2020

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Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 43

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 43

| On 12, Feb 2020

Baseball takes little time off in between seasons, so neither can we. Follow along at Did the Tribe Win Last Night as we count down to March 26, when the Cleveland Indians host the Detroit Tigers for game one of the 2020 season. – BT

Countdown to Opening Day – 43 days

The number 43 was absent from the back of an Indians player during the 2019 season, the first time that had happened since 2009.

The player to last wear the number in 2018 was Josh Tomlin, who was one of just eight Cleveland players to wear the number for more than one season while doing so longer than any man in Indians history, holding claim to the number starting with his Major League debut in 2010 through the conclusion of his Tribe career following the 2018 season.

Tomlin’s big league days were not done despite the end of his time in Cleveland as he signed with the Milwaukee Brewers last offseason. Late in spring training, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves and became a heavily relied upon arm in the team’s bullpen. He went 2-1 in his first big league work outside of Cleveland, making 50 relief appearances and one start while earning his first two big league saves.

Tomlin’s professional career began in 2006 when he was a 19th round draft pick by the Indians out of Texas Tech. He signed on June 9 of that year and had been a part of the Cleveland organization since until hitting free agency following the 2018 season.

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, there aren’t too many better ways to 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 and has allowed him to make a long career out of being a softer tossing right-hander.

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 following the 2018 season, the Indians’ longest tenured players in the organization and with the parent club were gone in the blink of an eye as the youth movement continued its takeover 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.

At the age of 35 now and a free agent once again, time will tell as to whether or not Tomlin’s baseball playing days will continue on or if the “Little Cowboy” will finally ride off into the sunset…

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’ 2020 Opening Day – 99 (Daniel Robertson)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 90 (Adam Cimber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 88 (Phil Maton)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 77 (Jack Armstrong)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 76 (Tom Magrann)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 75 (Mike Walker)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 73 (Ricardo Rincon)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 72 (Jason Giambi)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 71 (Johnny Hodapp)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 70 (James Karinchak, George Kontos)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 69 (Luis Medina)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 68 (Jefry Rodriguez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 67 (Aaron Civale, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 66 (Yasiel Puig, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 65 (Zach Plesac, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 64 (Tom Kramer, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 63 (Josh Smith, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 62 (Nick Wittgren, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 61 (Dan Otero, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 60 (Jhonny Peralta, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 59 (Carlos Carrasco)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 58 (Neil Ramirez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 57 (Shane Bieber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 56 (Cody Anderson)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 55 (Roberto Perez)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 54 (Hunter Wood)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 53 (Logan Allen)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 52 (Mike Clevinger)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 51 (numerous)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 50 (James Hoyt, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 49 (Tyler Olson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 48 (Emmanuel Clase, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 47 (Trevor Bauer)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 46 (Jon Edwards, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 45 (Adam Plutko)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 44 (Nick Goody, others)

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