Cleveland Indians News: Brett Myers likely out a month, Trevor Bauer among possible replacements

J. Meric

With the Indians rotation coming apart, top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer is one potential solution.

The Situation

Brett Myers has been place on the 15-day DL, but it's now clear his elbow is going to keep him sidelined longer than that, perhaps much longer. An MRI reveled a small tear of the ulnar collateral ligament, the plan for now is to have him avoid throwing for two weeks, then see where he's at. That means he'll be out 3-4 weeks at a minimum and if things don't look better by then, surgery could be the next step, which could keep him out anywhere from "I don't know" to "I'm not a doctor."

I'm not sure what's worse, the possibility that Myers has been injured all along and will miss the rest of the season, or the possibility that he was okay until now and if he's back in three weeks he'll be pitching the same way. Wait, I do know which of those is worse, it's the one where he comes back and pitches the way he has been (an 8.02 ERA in four starts).

Corey Kluber will get the start Wednesday night against Chicago. Kulber has allowed only 1 run over 5 innings in a pair of relief appearances this year, but was hit hard in two minor league starts earlier this month and had an ERA+ of 75 in 12 big league starts last season, he's not likely to have any great success. Even if he does, Ubaldo Jimenez seems on the verge of unemployment and Scott Kazmir hasn't proven anything yet. Point being, there's probably going to be a need for another new starter before too long (prove me wrong, fellas, prove me wrong). Who should be next in line?

The Options

Carlos Carrasco would have been first in line, except he went and got himself suspended for 8 games, meaning the Indians will have to commit to playing a man down for that long before they can reinsert him in the rotation.

David Huff has a 4.63 ERA and 1.71 WHIP so far at Columbus and more importantly, is David Huff (in case you missed it over the offseason, I have a strong distrust of "David Huff: Major League Starter").

Daisuke Matsuzaka is averaging less than four innings a start in AAA and has walked 16 batters in 11.1 innings, which does not translate to success on any level (I'd lay even money on him getting through 7 innings against a team of 12-year-olds, I guess).

T.J. House and Danny Salazar are both on the 40-man (Huff and Matsuzaka are not) and striking a lot of guys out... in Akron (AA). I'm not enthused about seeing either of them try to make that jump.

Which bring us to Trevor Bauer. Bauer has the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the Indians system (including everyone on the Major League roster) and in two starts in Columbus he's pitched 13 innings, with 16 strikeouts against just 4 walks and 3 runs. He's looked like the ;pitcher Tribe fans are hoping he'll be, and with the rotation in Cleveland not inspiring much confidence beyond Justin Masterson, there's sure to be clamor for Bauer.

Talent + Results = Promotion.

On the other hand, there's the service time issue. If the Indians were to call Bauer up tomorrow and keep him up, he'd be owed the league minimum for 2014 and 2015, then be arbitration eligible for 2016, 2017, and 2018, and then a free agent. If they wait three more weeks (til mid-May) and then call him up, he'd also be arbitration eligible (and still under team control) for 2019. If they wait until roughly the end of June to bring him back, he'd be under team control for 2019 AND only owed the league minimum in 2016.

The Indians are 2.5 games out of 1st place and have aspirations of making the playoff this season, there's a strong case that the players who give the team the best chance of winning games right now should be on the roster. 2019 is a long ways away and there's a decent chance Bauer will flame out before then. The extra year of league minimum salary of possibly greater importance (which is why you have to wait longer to get it), especially to a team with the Indians' payroll. It's the difference between him being paid $500,000 in 2016 and an arbitration figure that could be anywhere from $4-8 million, with raises to follow

The Solution

I'd hold off on bringing Bauer up. Part of this is the financial component. The difference between bringing him up in three weeks and bringing him up in ten weeks is likely to be somewhere between $10-15 million between 2016-2018. It's not just the money though. Bauer didn't look good in his one MLB start this month or in his stint in the big leagues with Arizona last September. I'd like to see him show he's too good for AAA for a little longer.

I suspect the front office feels the same way, but they don't return my calls, so I don't know for sure.

Carlos Carrasco would be my choice. He hasn't allowed any runs yet in Columbus, in his most recent start he struck out 10 in 6 innings, against just 2 hits and 1 walk. He's looked even better than Bauer there and he's also had more success in The Show. I don't see the eight-game suspension as a huge obstacle. Most teams carry 12 pitchers, the Indians have been carrying 13. Bringing Carrasco up to serve his time would only put them back to a normal-sized bullpen, without shortening the bench they've been playing with. The next time there's a vacancy, I'd bring Carrasco up and wait out the eight games. I think he gives them the best chance of winning.

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