Game Sixty: Indians 8, Reds 6 (11 innings)
Following yet another trainwreck of a start last night, Jeremy Sowers was optioned to Buffalo this morning. Sowers had allowed more runs than innings pitched in five out of his last seven starts. Sowers produced a 9.21 ERA and 987 OPS-against over those games, lasted less than five innings. His only quality start in that span came against the Royals, who are terrible, and he imploded twice against a mediocre Reds lineup. Even considering the Indians' comeback win last night, the Indians were 4-8 in his starts this season. Sowers' has allowed an unremarkable .299 BABIP this season, suggesting that bad luck has little to do with his bad results.
Matt Miller was called up to reinforce the bullpen, taking Sowers' spot on the roster. The Indians have not yet announced who will replace Sowers in the rotation, but with Adam Miller, Jake Westbrook and Brian Slocum all on the Disabled List, Rafael Perez seems the obvious choice in the short term. Any other option would require not only a 25-man roster move, but probably an addition to the 40-man roster as well.
Perez gave up his first run in 14 relief innings this season last night, as part of a three-inning bailout that essentially made the game winnable for the Indians. He started seven games for the Triple-A club this season, producing a solid if unspectacular 3.46, with 30 K against 10 BB over 41.2 innings. While hardly an exciting prospect as a starter, Perez certainly is unlikely to do worse than Sowers.
UPDATE: Kind of inexplicably, Wedge ruled out giving Perez a spot start in a pre-game interview today, intimating that a current Bison will get the call. Which raises quite a mystery. since the only other starters on the 40-man roster are Brian Slocum and J.D. Martin. Those two, like Adam Miller, are currently out with minor injuries and not expected to return this week or next.
Jason Stanford had a decent start for Buffalo yesterday, and while everyone keeps telling me he's out of options, I can't find any evidence of an option being used for him other than 2005 and 2006. (He spent all of 2004 on the 25-man roster and the Disabled List, and his 2003 cup-of-coffee reportedly ended with a DFA/outrighting to Buffalo, not an optional assignment.)
Assuming he has no option, though, it may seem hard to believe that the Indians would keep Stanford all this time only to lose him on the waiver wire after only one or two starts. But at age 30, Stanford is no longer a prospect; he's a minor league veteran on a one-year deal. And this is exactly what you use guys like that for, regardless of whether they're homegrown. The only way we lose him is if he gets a major-league opportunity elsewhere, and we could hardly begrudge him that. Besides, we have no definite way of knowing how long we'll need him, for any number of possible scenarios.
Jake Dittler also had a decent start for Buffalo yesterday, as it happens. Dittler was also outrighted from the 40-man roster at the end of 2006, and he definitely has one remaining option. Like Stanford, however, he is on a one-year minor league deal at this point, and he's arguably not a prospect either.