Thursday, March 25, 2010

Will the Indians' rotation be better this year?

Buster Olney had an interesting article about Fausto Carmona, who seems to be back on track, which is great news for the Indians.

Last year, the Indians went 65-97, and Carmona led the team in starts, with 24.  If they hadn't traded Cliff Lee, he would have led the team, as he had 22 when he was traded at the deadline.

It looks like their rotation will likely be Carmona, Aaron Laffey, Justin Masterson, David Huff and Jake Westbrook.  Jeremy Sowers, who was roughed up by the Brewers on Tuesday, is not fully healed from his injury and will not start the year in the rotation. 

On paper, that is not a good rotation, but new manager Manny Acta may have found a way to get them in shape (their team ERA, 3.56, has been better than other teams in the Cactus League).  He's been using sabermetrics to show his pitchers the importance of things like throwing a first pitch strike.  Acta sees Masterson as a potential ace (
Acta expects him to keep showing the way once the whistle blows and games count. Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona have more extensive resumes that they are trying to revive, but Masterson is fresher ace timbre.

"I expect a lot from him," Acta said. "He can be that workhorse-type of guy."

And Masterson wants it, both the role and the responsibility.

"Being the workhorse is the coolest thing," he said. "You can be the one who starts to set the tone, and that can lead only to good things."
If Carmona doesn't regain some of his 2007 form, it seems very unlikely that they'll get much better this year:
2007: 19-8, 3.06 ERA, 2.25 SO/BB
2008: 8-7, 5.45, 0.83
2009: 5-12, 6.32, 1.13
2010 (spring training): 1 ER, 13 IP, 6 SO, 2 BB

The AL Central is shaping up to have some interesting stories, if not necessarily great teams: The Twins need to replace Joe Nathan, many people think Magglio Ordonez is returning to form and the White Sox won't lack for drama.

Fortunately for Indians fans, too, Carmona is signed to an relatively affordable deal with club options for 2012-14, so they wouldn't necessarily have to trade him at the deadline in 2011 if he wins the Cy Young Award this year.

Jim Ingraham, of the News-Herald, wrote a good article about the 30 most important players for the Indians, in order of importance, with Carmona and Westbrook being the top 2.

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