CHICAGO: Indians starting pitcher Josh Tomlin was named the No. 5 starter out of spring training. From there, he’s been making a case to be included on the American League All-Star team.
With Tuesday’s 6-2 win over the Chicago White Sox, Tomlin improved to 7-0 this season, giving him the most wins in the AL without a loss. He’s also the first Indians pitcher to start a season 7-0 since Dennis Martinez started the 1995 season 9-0.
In eight starts, Tomlin has a 3.35 ERA, 36 strikeouts and only six walks in 51 innings pitched. His WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) is his calling card. Tomlin has the second-best WHIP in the AL at 0.98. The only pitcher beating him? Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale, who Tomlin and the Indians beat Tuesday night.
Indians manager Terry Francona has repeatedly praised Tomlin as a person and a teammate, as well as a pitcher. He did it again following Tomlin’s May 19 start, a 7-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds in which he also collected two hits at the plate.
“He’s easy to pull for,” Francona said. “He’s one of the better teammates I’ve ever seen. He’ll do anything to try to help you win. That’s all he cares about is trying to win. He’s come in here on certain days when our bullpen’s beat up or something or something happened and [says], ‘I’ll throw tomorrow.’ He’s always willing to do stuff like that. We’re pretty fortunate because early on, he’s giving us a big lift coming out of the gate.”
And the Indians are certainly getting a great return on their investment. Tomlin signed an extension in January and has a base salary of $2.25 million this season, $2.5 million next year and a $3 million club option for the 2018 season. Compared to market value for starting pitching, which has soared, it appeared to be a good deal at the time.
Now, with Tomlin making a push for the All-Star team, it’s looking like a steal.
A good call
Left-handed pitcher Ryan Merritt got the kind of phone call every young player hopes to get, but he hasn’t yet had a chance to make his major-league debut.
The Indians promoted Merritt on Monday to replace Joba Chamberlain, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Merritt was the 2014 Bob Feller Award recipient as the top pitcher in the system and pitched well at Triple-A this season with a 2.94 ERA.
“It’s the phone call you’re always looking for,” Merritt said. “That’s what you’re looking forward to your whole career, getting that phone call, getting up here.”
Until he makes his debut, he can only dream of the emotions he’ll go through, although he got a taste of it on the field before games.
“I’m sure I’ll be nervous,” Merritt said. “I’ll be excited. My heart will be pounding. I’m just going to try to take it one step at a time. … Being out there actually on the field, the atmosphere, I never knew that feeling. It’s pretty neat to get up here and feel that feeling of really being on the big-league field. It’s a crazy feeling.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RyanLewisABJ.