Stephanie Storm’s 11 final thoughts on the triumphant return of every man Josh Tomlin, who pitched the Indians to a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins Tuesday.
1) It was great to see Tomlin back in an Indians uniform. It came about a month late as far I – and well, probably half the planet – preferred, but we all really needed to make sure Carlos Carrasco wasn’t going to cut it as a starter, first, right?
2) Look, I get why the Indians deep thinkers kept hoping and praying Carrasco would figure it out – the same reason they were originally thrilled to have him included as part of the “prospect haul” the Tribe got in exchange for reigning Cy Young award winner Cliff Lee in the 2009 trade deadline deal. Based on the potential of pure “stuff” alone, Carrasco ought to beat Tomlin hands down every time.
3) But that’s the problem with choosing one player over another based on “potential” or worse (in my book, at least) all those crazy saber metric “projections” alone. A guy can possess all the natural talent or physical tools in the world, but if he can’t put the immeasurable mental part of the game into play, potential doesn’t amount to more than a bucket of balls.
4) This is not to say Carrasco can’t become be a valuable member of the Indians pitching staff. Last season’s splits on him as a starter versus reliever was night and day. It was obvious where pure stuff played better – in limited doses no more than a time (or two at most) through a lineup.
5) So why continue to try to force Carrasco into a role that a guy like Tomlin (who may at first glance can under whelm most folks), only to look up 6 2/3 innings later to see the kind of results like he had Tuesday in limiting the Twins to a run on four hits to earn his first win since undergoing Tommy John surgery nearly two years ago?
6) Ok, off that soapbox and on to the next: you know what else was great to see Tuesday? A little offense. The Indians batsmen jumped out to an early 4-0 lead with a pair of runs in the first two innings before Twins starter Samuel Deduno had time to settle in
7) The Tribe halted its 14-inning scoreless drought by pulling back from the obvious pressing a majority of the hitters had been doing and simply “getting back to the basics” as Michael Brantley said afterwards as the Indians lone offensive spokesman in an otherwise barren clubhouse (trust me, this is a story/rant for another day).
8) Manger Terry Francona often refers to the Indians offensive style of play as simply “keeping the line moving”. Without a feared slugger in the lineup, there’s no room for anyone in the lineup to feel responsible for coming up with the huge game-winning hit on a nightly basis. If one guy after another simply does his part and everyone follows suit on down the line, the big hit will eventually come from a variety of the team’s bats the way the club has been built, not just from one or two big-name players.
9) Last but not least, the team’s offense across the board really needs to use Tuesday’s four early runs as a motivational spring board. Twice on his own during Tuesday's postgame presser, Francona brought up “how big” Progressive Field “has played” lately in the cool, windy weather of a typical spring in Ohio.
10) “I think with our hitters, you know, there’s probably some frustration with (the weather making the park playing big) now,” Francona said. “(But) it’ll change. When it warms up, the ball will be flying out to right (field) and the pitchers will be worried.”
11)There’s plenty of truth to that, so quit yer complainin’ boys! Get out there and swing those sicks - it’s May, for heaven’s sake. Besides, now with a competitor like Tomlin back in the rotation pitching every five days, the Indians ought to have a fighting chance to win more often.