It's possible the Indians' rotation could have five new faces in it for 2011.
Granted, Fausto Carmono would have to be traded, Justin Masterson sent to the bullpen, Carlos Carrasco back to Triple-A and even then that leaves Mitch Talbot to deal with.
Regardless, the 2011 Indians rotation has the potential to be drastically different than the five pitchers who logged the most starts: Masterson, Carmona (pictured), Talbot, Jake Westbrook and David Huff.
Huff seems to be on the outs as the organization has soured on him, plus his 6.21 ERA is rather unsightly. Masterson has struggled against left-handed batters and may be better suited to the bullpen, where he will move to shortly as he approaches his innings limit. While Masterson may be better suited in the bullpen, the Indians have so far refused to make that official switch with manager Manny Acta saying Masterson "will be sent home as a starter," reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer .
Then there's Carmona, who is just 26 and locked up to a deal through 2011 plus affordable club options through 2014. That made him a hot commodity at the trade deadline, and even though Carmona can log plenty of innings for the Indians in that time frame, the fact remains the Indians are one-to-two years away from even thinking about contending. Carmona is one of the team's remaining valuable trade assets, so bet on Cleveland heavily considering moving him.
The last member with a lot of starts is Mitch Talbot, who got the year off to a promising start, posting a 3.99 ERA in 17 starts, but the second half has been full of injuries and regression to the mean. Oh, and did I mention he has a 6.03 ERA at home and 2.86 mark on the road? Not exactly the model of consistency you're looking for out of a starter.
So what will happen in 2011? The guess here is that recently recalled Carlos Carrasco will find himself with a rotation spot after a successful Triple-A stint, with Talbot and Masterson joining them. Talbot is a young, cost-controllable righty who can at the very least soak up innings, while Masterson and the organization needs to come together and find a pitch to get lefties out with.
Another rotation spot will likely go to one of Jeanmar Gomez, Aaron Laffey or Josh Tomlin. Assuming Carmona is moved, the final spot would go to to a veteran right-hander who signs a deal after finding the free agent market chilly. Could that mean the return of Kevin Millwood?
-- Evan Brunell
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