The strongest part of the Indians roster is without a doubt the starting rotation. With the Indians picking up Josh Tomlin’s 2018 option for $3 million they will not be losing any starting pitchers to free agency. It is a good possibility the Indians will use their surplus of starting pitching in a trade to strengthen another area of the team. I will look at the Indians current starting pitchers and some of the top free agents available.
Current starting pitchers
– Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25)
Corey Kluber will return as the Indians ace after winning his second Cy Young award in 2017. Kluber was brilliant all regular season. He struck out 265 batters in 203-2/3 innings while only walking 36. After coming back from an injury on June 1st he allowed only four or more runs in one start the rest of the regular season. Unfortunately an undisclosed injury hampered him in the postseason.
– Carlos Carrasco (18-6, 3.29)
Carlos Carrasco finished fourth in the Cy Young voting in 2017. He reached 200 innings pitched for the first time in his career striking out 226 batters while walking 46. He has solidified himself as the Indians #2 starter. In his lone postseason start Carrasco pitched 5-2/3 shutout innings striking out seven.
– Trevor Bauer (17-9, 4.19)
Trevor Bauer has a breakout season in 2017 winning a career high 17 games. After a inconsistent start to the season Bauer went 9-1 in his last 13 starts. He showed the ace potential that the Indians had been hoping to see the last couple seasons. He made two postseason starts allowing no earned runs in 8-1/3 innings.
– Josh Tomlin (10-9, 4.98)
Josh Tomlin has been Mr. Steady Eddy in his Indians career and that did not change in 2017. Tomlin also had a solid and consistent second half of the season as he went 6-0 in his last 10 starts of the regular season. He made two postseason appearances in relief pitching three perfect innings with four strikeouts.
– Mike Clevinger (12-6, 3.11)
Clevinger pitched the majority of the regular season as a starter (21 starts in 27 games). While Clevinger had a solid season he was only able to reach seven innings in two of his starts due to high pitch counts. He allowed 60 walks in 121-2/3 innings. Clevinger seemed to increase his focus and control with runners on base. His role in 2018 remains to be seen and will most likely depend on other roster moves.
– Danny Salazar (5-6, 4.28)
Danny Salazar unfortunately suffered another injury plagued season. He pitched in 23 games (19 starts) during the regular season. He put together five straight solid starts in July & August before allowing six runs on 12 hits in an August 20th start against the Royals. It was after that point that the Indians decided to start using him out of the bullpen. In his last four appearances he allowed one run in 10-1/3 innings. He made one relief appearance in the postseason. Salazar is a strong candidate to be traded this offseason.
– Ryan Merritt (2-0, 1.74)
Ryan Merritt made four starts and one relief appearance for the Indians in 2017 allowing only four earned runs in 20-2/3 innings. Merritt will not overpower you but he possesses great control and knows how to attack hitters. He continues to wait in the wings for his opportunity to snag a spot in the rotation.
– Shawn Morimando (0-0, 11.57)
Shawn Morimando made two relief appearances in September for the Indians. At AAA Columbus he was 10-9 with a 4.41 ERA in 26 starts. His best chance at making the major league roster in 2018 is in the bullpen.He will most likely be a depth starter at Columbus.
– Adam Plutko (0-0, 7.36)
Adam Plutko also made two relief appearances for the Indians in September. He made 22 starts and two relief appearances at AAA Columbus going a combined 7-12 with a 5.90 ERA. Plutko will be a depth starter at Columbus in 2018.
Top available free agents
– Yu Darvish – Los Angeles Dodgers (10-12, 3.86)
Yu Darvish pitched well in the National League after his trade from the Rangers to the Dodgers going 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA. In total he struckout 209 batters in 186-2/3 innings. Darvish is one of the premier starting pitchers on the market.
– Jake Arrieta – Chicago Cubs (14-10, 3.53)
The 2015 Cy Young Award winner struggled a bit in 2017 after winning a combined 40 games the previous two seasons. He did finish strong posting a 2.26 ERA after June.
– Lance Lynn – St. Louis Cardinals (11-8, 3.43)
Lance Lynn put up a solid 2017 season after coming back from Tommy John surgery. His 186 innings pitched were his most since 2014.
– Alex Cobb – Tampa Bay Rays (12-10, 3.66)
Like Lynn Alex Cobb also was coming off of Tommy John surgery. He had a career high in starts (29) and innings (179-1/3) while allowing only 44 walks.