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The rotation wasn't quite the nightmare it could have been, thanks to a fine season from Fausto Carmona and a surprising rookie campaign from Mitch Talbot, but the starting staff still had its problems, from the early-season struggles of Justin Masterson and Jake Westbrook to the David Huff Experience. Josh Tomlin and Jeanmar Gomez, who came up in late July, pitched well in August but tailed off in September. Mitch Talbot was a bright spot the first half of the year, but fell off after the All-Star break. Jake Westbrook returned to the rotation almost two years after injuring his elbow; he was traded in late July.
Only Boston's starters walked more than the Indians, which not only led to more runs, but also shortened the length of starts: Indians starters threw 948.2 innings, third-fewest in the American League. The Indians also ranked at the bottom of the league in strikeouts thanks to a rotation full of ball-in-play pitchers.
Here's the individual stat lines, followed by some comments:
Fausto Carmona (Signed Through 2011- $6.1M) - No Option Years Left
The contract status is a bit misleading, because after this season the Indians can exercise the first of three team options:
- 2012: $7.0M
- 2013: $9.0M
- 2014: $12.0M
So any of those rumors that the Indians were actually looking to trade Carmona is outright lunacy. This is one of the most team-friendly contracts in the majors. If Carmona puts up three more great seasons, then picking up those options will be no-brainers, or the two sides could use that upcoming team option as an impetus for a contract extension. If 2010 was just a mirage, then the Indians can walk away at any time.
Justin Masterson (Pre-Arbitration) - 1 Option Year Remaining
Thanks to a better second half, Justin will stay in the rotation. As the season wore on, he got good enough against left-handed hitters to stay a viable starter. The durability test was passed with flying colors, as he threw 180 innings without missing a scheduled start. Now the Indians need him to turn his fantastic stuff into results.
Mitch Talbot (Pre-Arbitration) - No Option Years Remaining
Talbot doesn't have the upside of Carmona, Masterson, or Carrasco, but he's a finished product, and has only accrued one year of service time. That combination, in this era of free agency, makes Talbot a valuable pitcher. The Indians won't have to spend a season or two dealing with growing pains with Talbot, but will have to deal with a lot of long innings; he only struck out 88 while walking 69 and allowing 169 hits in 159.1 innings.
David Huff (Pre-Arbitration) - 2 Option Years Remaining
Huff made 9 of his 11 starts before the All-Star Break, and aside from a complete game early in the season, was consistently awful. He was sent down in late June, and didn't show any improvements in two starts in August. He struck out only three more (37) than he walked (34).
Josh Tomlin (Pre-Arbitration) - 2 Option Years Remaining
Tomlin started the season way off the radar, coming off just a decent season in AA. But thanks to turnover in the rotation and his own success in AAA, the Indians brought him up in late July, and he finished the season in the rotation. Unlike many of his rotation brethren, Tomlin did not have problems with walks (2.3 BB/9). He ended poorly, but he'll probably have a shot to stay in the rotation next season.
Jeanmar Gomez (Pre-Arbitration) - 2 OptionYears Remaining
Gomez was called on to make a spot start in July, and pitched seven shutout innings against Detroit. He was brought back two weeks later after the Indians dealt Jake Westbrook, and he remained in the rotation the rest of the way. Like Tomlin, Gomez was initially very effective, and struggled after the league had gotten a chance to see him. He'll be in the mix for a rotation spot.
Carlos Carrasco (Pre-Arbitration) - 1 Option Year Remaining
The Indians brought Carrasco to the majors late in the 2009 season, and he looked completely lost at the major-league level. After spending most of the 2010 season in AAA, Carrasco seemed a different pitcher in his few starts with the Indians in 2010, striking out 38 in 44.2 innings. That nice stretch probably earned the former Philadelphia prospect a spot in next year's rotation.