http://www.theclevelandfan.com/clevelan ... g-rotation
If it can manage to be around league average, the Indians can contend for October. If it's as bad as it was last season, that's going to be a major long shot.
For those who don't want to read it, though I don't know why, here are some of the tidbits in it:
Pitching with no margin for error:
It’s not easy to pitch knowing that if you give up four runs, your team will lose. The Indians were 19-83 last season when they allowed four or more runs. Adding extra pressure by never pitching with a lead or knowing that one mistake will cost your team the game is extremely difficult and a lot to ask of a starting staff. Add in that the Indians had the third-youngest pitching staff in baseball and, by the end of the season, the starters’ ages were 27, 28, 24, 24, and 26. Add in that Indians pitchers had a terrible defense behind them, one that allowed 79 unearned runs and countless other runs by a lack of range or other miscues that weren’t counted as errors.
On the 2012 rotation:
The overall numbers for the starters in 2012 were ugly: 48-76, 5.25 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, and a 4.73 FIP. What the difference between ERA and FIP, fielder independent pitching, tells us is that the Indians defense was bad and the pitchers suffered because of it. Well, it also tells us that the pitchers weren’t very good in their own right, but that the fielders didn’t help either. To reiterate what goes in to the calculation of FIP, it is a metric that creates an alternative to ERA using outcomes that the pitcher has exclusive control over – home runs, walks, hit by pitches, and strikeouts. A 4.73 FIP is not good, nor is a 5.25 ERA.
Now, let’s re-calculate those numbers without Josh Tomlin, Derek Lowe, Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff, Roberto Hernandez, and Chris Seddon, six guys who will not make any starts for the Indians this summer. Huff is the only one with an outside shot, but I’d put it at less than five percent that he makes a start. Lowe, Gomez, Hernandez, and Seddon are on other teams and Tomlin is out for the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
That leaves Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister, and Corey Kluber: 28-45, 4.94 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 4.47 FIP. Not good, but better. If you’ll recall my latest article, Thursday’s look at the Indians possibly being 2013’s Baltimore or Oakland, a 4.47 FIP would have ranked higher than Baltimore’s 4.50 FIP. It’s important to understand what these numbers mean and what they could mean for the Indians.
On Ubaldo Jimenez:
In a season full of terrible trends for Jimenez, the worst one, in my opinion, was the severe drop in ground ball rate. Jimenez was a ground ball machine from 2007-2011, with yearly ground ball rates of 46.4, 54.4, 52.5, 48.8, and 47.2. The league average is 44 percent. In 2012, Jimenez’s ground ball rate fell to 38.4 percent.
As believers in the ground ball like to say, you can’t hit a home run on a ground ball. Not surprisingly, Jimenez saw the highest HR/9 rate of his career at 1.27 and the highest HR per fly ball rate of his career at 11.8 percent. Keep in mind that he allowed more fly balls than in any other year of his career and HE USED TO PITCH AT COORS FIELD! Oh, yeah, and he also allowed the highest line drive rate of his career….by nearly four percent.
So, to summarize, we have a pitcher who is losing velocity, with no control, who is regularly pitching up in the zone and not fooling anybody, posting the lowest swinging strike percentage of his career. The worst part about all of this is that these weren’t new developments in 2012. This entire process was already developing when the Indians acquired Jimenez. Despite the clear red flags, the Indians rolled the dice anyway. And they threw snake eyes.
I think it's deeper and has more talent than last season. If they can keep their heads above water from Opening Day to mid-to-late June and then get reinforcements from Carlos Carrasco, after he shakes off the Tommy John rust, and Trevor Bauer, if his command improves, the rotation could look a lot stronger in the second half of the season.