A starting pitcher can be effective in several ways while still having flaws. First, he can be an innings eater, meaning he usually pitches at least into the seventh inning, lessening the use of the bullpen. Even if his earned run average is average to below average, a pitcher of this type can be useful to a rotation. Or a pitcher can be a six-and-fly guy, rarely pitching into the later innings but compensating for that by not allowing many runs.
Mitch Talbot is doing neither of these things, and because the Indians have options in AAA, Friday night's start may have been his last. In 11 starts, he's pitched into the seventh inning just three times, and since coming back from the Disabled List at the end of May, has pitched into the sixth inning in just two of nine starts. His ERA+ going into the game was 68, his rates are pretty (11.9 H/9, 5.6 SO/9, 3.7 BB/9), and most importantly, the Indians don't have the luxury that comes with losing to keep a pitcher throwing like Talbot has been throwing in the rotation. It Talbot had an option, he'd have been in the minors several starts ago.
Manny Acta's comments after the game sound like he's made up his mind:
"He's been putting himself and ourselves behind, and it's not easy to play catchup baseball," Indians skipper Manny Acta said. "He's scuffling right now."
"We're not going to overreact over a start, but we do have to look into things," Acta said. "It's been three and a half months of baseball, and we're on top and we're in this thing and we only have two-and-a-half months to go. We have to do whatever is best for the team, so we have to look at all our options."
I think the main decision is not to take Talbot out of the rotation but whether to put him in the bullpen. He only has just over a year of service time, so there's a long-term benefit to getting him turned around, but with the Indians in contention, those may not outweigh the short-term handicap of having him in the bullpen. If it was my call, I would designate Chad Durbin for assignment and have Talbot serve as the mop-up guy until the rosters expand, keeping him around for one more winter.
Even with the large hole the Indians found themselves in, they still managed to make a game of it, cutting the lead to 9-6 in the eighth inning. But they couldn't cut the deficit any more than that in the eighth, and after Vinnie Pestano allowed two runs in the ninth, the lead was five again.
|Highest WPA||Lowest WPA|
|A. Cabrera||.085||O. Cabrera||-.116|