Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Jeanmar Gomez Poised to Take Talbot's Rotation Spot

3.71 - 4.42 - 4.42 - 5.79

Those numbers are the combined ERA of the Indians starters for April, May, June, and July respectively, and they show a disturbing downward trend. In 2010 the Indians 4.53 ERA from it's starters was the 2nd worst in the AL, and this years team features essentially the exact same group of arms, with similar results.

After the team roared off to a 18-8 start in April on the back of great starting pitching, both the teams pitching and record come have back to Earth. Indeed, since that 18-8 start to the year, the Indians have actually been a sub-.500 team, going 29-34 over the past two and a half months.

While the offense, which scored a MLB best 141 (5.42R/Gm) runs during the 18-8 runs has also tapered off significantly to just 3.89 runs per game since then, at least some of that could be explained by the time they missed Travis Hafner, and Shin-Soo Choo.

The pitching however, remains essentially unchanged. This is the same corps of players that was legitimately bad in 2010, and aside from a one month blip to start the year, has looked pretty bad again.

In response to their continued struggles the team has made the rather obvious decision to replace it's weakest link in Mitch Talbot (6.33 ERA - 5.37 FIP) with 23 year old righty Jeanmar Gomez.

Gomez has spent much of the season in AAA so far, but did come up to make three starts earlier in the year. A solid arm, Gomez works in the low 90s and pairs his fastball with a slider and changeup, with the slider being by far the better of the two offerings. In this his second stint at AAA Gomez has made strides with both his strikeout and walk rates and as actually shown success going against the platoon split, with a 3.68 FIP against left handers over the past two seasons, though his stuff suggests that he'll ultimate struggle against lefties unless he improves his changeup.

Talbot on the other hand is probably just about out of chances. At 28 years old this is the third time he's pitched on an MLB squad and he's never really done anything to suggest he can stick at this level as anything more than a mop-up arm. He's the not-so-proud owner of a career ERA of 5.19 , and his 4.94 FIP, and 5.07/4.12 strikeout to walk ratio suggest that's well deserved.

It's doubtful that exchanging Talbot for Gomez will provide a spark to the rotation that leads to the Indians climbing up from the bottom of the league ERA rankings, but at this point it's a no-brainer. Talbot has done nothing and Gomez has seen some success at AAA while showing some progress in his stuff.

In what is shaping up to be a tight race, his presence might only give the Indians one or two more quality starts - but that could make all the difference.

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