Josh Tomlin (a.k.a. Little Cowboy), was a 19th-round draft choice of the Indians in the 2006 amateur draft out of Texas Tech. Tomlin was called up by the Indians on July 27, 2010 to replace Aaron Laffey in the rotation after Laffey was placed on the disabled list. Tomlin's Indians debut was memorable, and he outpitched C. C. Sabathia in a 4-1 victory. When the Indians traded Jake Westbrook at the trade deadline four days later, Tomlin performed well enough to keep his spot in the rotation and finished the season 6-4 with a 4.56 ERA and an ERA+ of 87. He would go at least five innings in all of his starts, a streak he would continue well into 2011.
Tomlin played a large part in the Indians' hot start to 2011 after winning the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation behind
Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez, Justin Masterson, Carlos Carrasco and Mitch Talbot. At the end of May, Tomlin was 6-2, posting a 2.74 ERA through his first 10 starts. Tomlin was pitching to contact and throwing strikes. In these first 10 games, he would walk 9 batters total. There were signs, however, that he was getting lucky, as batters had a BABIP of .197 with a K/9 of 4.66.
The next three months would not be so kind. Although he was still going deep into games, hitters were starting to catch up to his stuff, which is not overpowering (see chart below). The next three months he would put up a 5.24 ERA on a BABIP of .288 while his K/9 did not improve significantly (4.97). He would end the season with a sprained right elbow injury after going 4.2 innings on August 24 against Seattle. This game would end at 37 the number of consecutive starts he had tightroped his way through at least 5 innings, the longest such streak to start a career in Indians' history and the longest in MLB since 1919. His final record was 12-7 with an ERA+ of 92. He would also finish the season with BB/9 of 1.1, the lowest of any starting pitcher in MLB.
A couple more statistics of interest: Tomlin's 2011 WAR was 1.6, with an xFIP of 4.03. These are provided in order to establish some contrast to what will happen in 2012.
|Pitch||Count||Freq||Velo (mph)||pfx HMov (in.)||pfx VMov (in.)||H. Rel (ft.)||V. Rel (ft.)|
Tomlin came into Spring Training pretty much assured of the fourth spot in the rotation behind Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Derek Lowe. Once the season started, Tomlin was not able to find that early 2011 magic. The tables below tell the story pretty well. Batters were making much better contact off Tomlin and he was still unable to strike out batters at a significant rate. Outings became progressively worse. He was sent to the bullpen the first week of August where he continued to flounder. His lack of the pinpoint control prompted team officials to send him for an examination, where he was found to need Tommy John surgery. He had the surgery on August 22.
Tomlin's 2012 WAR: 0.0. His xFIP was 4.74.
Expectations for 2013 and Beyond
Recovery from surgery. He will not likely see any action for the Tribe until 2014. Even then, it seems likely that Tomlin may never be able to replicate the luck and success of his amazing early 2011 run and he will likely come back as a long man out of the bullpen.