Josh Tomlin returned to the Indians starting lineup Tuesday after another brief stint in the minors and was once again victimized by the long ball - a three-run home run in the second by Ramon Santiago that sparked the Reds’ 9-2 blowout of the host Indians.
Tomlin’s 17 home runs (in 16 games – including 15 starts) this season mark the most in the major leagues among pitchers with 90 or less innings. Thus, it came as little surprise Wednesday when he was informed he’d be joining the bullpen.
“(Tomlin’s) gotten to a point where he can throw his off-speed pitches really well,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “But when he’s having a tough time getting his fastball where he wants it, he’s paying the price.”
Tomlin’s role change leaves the Indians starter for Sunday against the host New York Yankees as To Be Determined. When Francona was asked before Wednesday’s game if former starter-turned-reliever Carlos Carrasco was being considered to swap spots with Tomlin, Francona was only slightly coy.
Francona could afford to be. When Carrasco threw 59 pitches over four innings of relief of Tomlin Tuesday, it spoke volumes. It marked his longest outing of his 26 appearances out of the ‘pen since being removed from the starting rotation.
As a starter, Carrasco was 0-3 with a 6.95 ERA in four starts. Since joining the bullpen, the right-hander sports a 2.340 ERA over 43 innings.
“We lost one guy - Justin Masterson (in a trade to the St. Louis Cardinals at the deadline) - but we have other guys,” Carrasco said when asked about the possibility of starting again. “If they need me, I’m going to do my job.”
The problem with putting Carrasco back in the rotation is that when he opened the season there, he went 0-3 with a 6.95 ERA in four starts before being banished to the bullpen. Like the previous season, Carrasco has blossomed in relief. In 43 innings, the right-hander sports a 2.30 ERA.
Those numbers make it hard to tell if Carrasco is the answer. But in a season of desperation to find steady starting pitching, the Indians might not have many more choices. Or, odds are they’ve would have brought them up already.