T.J. House is set to make his second start for the Indians tonight, filling in for the injured Zach McAllister. In House's first start he ate 6 innings are a time when the Tribe bullpen desperately needed some rest, so that was nice; House gave up 5 runs on 11 hits (including a pair of home runs) in those 6 innings, which was not so nice. House is only 24 years old, and has been pitching well for Triple-A Columbus this season (he's allowed only one home run in 41.1 innings, and has a 2.40 ERA there), so there's reason to be interested in him, but I'm not convinced he's up to the challenge of being in the rotation.
If McAllister isn't ready to return next week, or if someone else in the rotation goes out, what exactly are the Indians' options?
Well, there's Carlos Carrasco being moved back into the rotation, which I'm against; there's Danny Salazar being called back up without having accomplished anything back on the farm so far, which I'm against; there's bringing someone new into the mix, which I'm not enthusiastic about, but seems like it's at least worth investigating.
From a perusal of the internet, here are most "intriguing" options I could find, guys who aren't on a roster, but don't seem to have retired:
Jon Garland (34, RH)
Garland was a very solid pitcher from 2002 through 2010 (mostly with the White Sox), throwing 190+ innings in every one of those seasons, with very low strikeout rates, but an ERA+ of 105. He injured his shoulder in 2011, missed 2012 (after agreeing to a minor-league deal with the Indians that was never actually signed), and pitched only 68 innings in 2013 (for the Rockies), which did not go very well. He's likely finished as an MLB starter.
Jair Jurrjens (28, RH)
Jurrjens was tremendous for the Braves back in 2009, one of the top half dozen or so pitchers in the National League. He never recaptured that success though, and spent most of the last two seasons pitching in Triple-A with Atlanta, Detroit, and Baltimore's affiliates. His velocity is not what it used to be, and after signing a minor-league deal with the Reds this spring, he was later cut loose. I'm not feeling it.
Jeff Karstens (31, RH)
Karstens was a bit above league average for the Pirates in 2011 and 2012, but a shoulder injury led to him missing all of last season (technically he threw 7 minor-league innings). He's never had great velocity, or struck many batters out, but he limited the number of walks and home runs he allowed, and there's something to be said for that. He's the least removed of any of these guys from being a solid MLB starter.
Jeff Niemann (31, RH)
Niemann was the #4 overall pick back in 2004, but didn't develop into more than a league-average starter for the Rays. He was having the best season of his career in 2012, until he fractured his fibula during his seventh start of the year. He made only one more appearance that season and missed all of 2013. Given how he was pitching before that injury, I'm a little surprised he doesn't have even a minor-league deal anywhere.
Clayton Richard (30, LH)
Richard was a slightly below league-average starter from 2009 to 2012, with numbers that looked better than they really were because he was making half his starts in the pitchers' haven that is Petco Field. Something was clearly wrong last season though, and that something turned out to be a need for thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, which he had in February. He is expected to pitch for teams in June. As a lefty, if he shows any signs of life, someone will sign him.
Do any of those guys interest you? Is there someone else out there that I didn't include that you'd like to see the team bring in? I guess Niemann is the guy I find most likely to provide a team with reasonable production, but there probably isn't a real difference maker out there.