The Indians left it all on the field yesterday against the Tigers and they may be feeling the effects for some time. In the 13 inning win, the Indians used nine pitchers including Zach McAllister (2 IP), who started and Carlos Carrasco (2 IP) and Josh Tomlin (3 IP), who pitched in relief. In addition, part of the 13th inning rally involved Asdrubal Cabrera getting plunked in the knee cap. Normally, a player would have been removed after a hit like that, but the entire bench had already been extinguished outside of Yan Gomes, and he was on deck.
All that effort may or may not have been worth it. Terry Francona wanted to give 100% to win a game that was tied in the ninth rather than put out a minimal effort (starting with using Kyle Crockett longer in the tenth) and possibly lose the game. This strategy required a starting pitcher to throw in extras and Tomlin was the best candidate as the next day’s starter. The problem with this was that, while it did lead to the win, the Indians had no one left to throw against the Orioles. The Indians would obviously need reinforcements from the outside.
The first solution has been to move Justin Masterson up in the rotation. He will be pitching on three days rest, leaving no obvious starter for Friday night’s game. Tomlin is expected to rejoin the game as soon as possible and since he only threw three innings in relief, he could be used as early as Sunday. There was another pitching ramification from the battle against Detroit. Starter, McAllister has been placed on the 15 day DL with back soreness. He was not pulled from the game for this injury, but has pitched just 3.2 innings in his last two starts, so it is possible there is something physical wrong. This creates another whole in the rotation, one that will likely be filled from the outside.
The most likely prospect for this role is T.J. House, who was brought up as a long reliever just last week and was sent back to AAA for Trevor Bauer on Tuesday. It is only because McAllister is going on the DL that he is allowed to return so soon, but he is obviously the next best choice from AAA. While he has only pitched out of the bullpen in his short time in the Majors, House has been a career starter in the minors, including a 2.40 ERA in seven starts for Columbus this year. With House expected to start tomorrow, Tomlin can rejoin the rotation in McAllister’s regular spot, Monday against Chicago.
In addition, the Indians needed some extra bullpen depth after using nine pitchers yesterday, so they have brought up Clipper’s closer Mark Lowe. Lowe isn’t your typical MiLB call-up as he is a 31 year old, eight year Major League veteran. Lowe has pitched for the Mariners (2006-10), Rangers (2010-12) and Angels (2013) and has a 4.17 career ERA in 274.1 innings. He signed with the Indians in early April and has pitched well for the Clip Show, posting a 3.86 ERA with 21 strike outs in 16.1 innings with eight saves. He had his worst season last year, with an ERA over 9.00, so the Indians will need to be careful when using him, but he should still be a helpful addition.
To make room for Lowe, two moves were necessary. The Indians are not quite ready to give up on John Axford or Carlos Carrasco, so Kyle Crockett was sent to Columbus, where he will make his AAA debut a week after making his MLB debut. Lowe also needed to be added to the 40 man roster and for this Nyjer Morgan was placed on the 60 Day DL. Morgan’s injury looked serious and it is never smart to push a ligiment based knee injury, so it was likely he would have spent at least 60 days on the DL anyway.
Chances are, these are not the only moves the Indians will be making in the near future. Crockett will likely be returning once his ten days in AAA are up and Lowe may not stick around long. While they have tolerated it so far, the Indians can’t afford to have multiple relievers who can’t be trusted so both Axford and Carrasco will be on watch.