Originally written on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 9/18/13
Brian Hoyer? Former third-string quarterback BRIAN HOYER is dominating the discussion today. Who gives a damn? If the Indians win tonight, they’re in the second wild card slot with ten games to play! This is what we should be talking about! Craig said there isn’t much to debate about with the Tribe, but let’s prove him wrong. Who do you feel most comfortable with on the mound in a must win game right now? TD: One game TODAY -(gulp) Ubaldo Jimenez. I mean, who else are you going to say? McAllister isn’t pitching nearly as well as we would like. Kluber is still battling to find his before injury form. Kazmir has shown signs of wearing down and is not doing his job, but he is still a back end guy. Masterson is hurt. Salazar on a pitch count. Easy answer. Ubaldo baby!Kirk: Gulp. My answer would’ve been Capt. Corey Kluber as of last week. Now, with Salazar’s pitch count limitations, it’s got to be Ubaldo. He’s been phenomenal, and I don’t know how long it’s going to last, but we need to ride it while we can. Scott: Does Justin Masterson count here? I know he’s had his warts in the second half, but you have to go with your (proverbial) ace in a must-win game. You keep him on a short leash though and keep an arm like Salazar waiting in the bullpen. Kirk: Gulp. My answer would’ve been Capt. Corey Kluber as of last week. Now, with Salazar’s pitch count limitations, it’s got to be Ubaldo. He’s been phenomenal, and I don’t know how long it’s going to last, but we need you ride it while we can. Who do you trust most in the bullpen outside Perez, Smith, and Allen? TD: Rzepcysnki has really been a find. Think he has been just a tad better than Rich Hill? Scott: Mark Rzepczynski has quietly been pretty lethal in the pen. Since coming over, he has an ERA just above 1.00, and has 15 strikeouts compared to just five walks in 16 1/3 innings. Kirk: Probably Bryan Shaw. Close second to Marc Scrabchinski, who’s been great in matchup scenarios. Shaw has given this team multiple inning efforts a couple of times lately, he throws hard, and with the exception of a week or two midseason, he’s been quite effective. In his last 29 apperances, he’s given up a run in just five of them (only multiple runs in three of them). Are you concerned about the tribe having to piece together a rotation down the stretch with Salazar on a crippling pitch count, Kluber yet to go six since returning, Masterson not set to start in the regular season, and ZacMac and Kazmir not looking sharp? Scott: Yes, very. But it’s worked thus far. In the event that Salazar is in the pipeline to start, Francona will need to ensure that his bullpen arms are ready to go. The worst thing that could happen is if there’s a short outing in the game before him and then he has to wear the pen thin. Then again, perhaps that’s why there are roughly a dozen guys in the bullpen at this stage. Kirk: I am. I’m very concerned. I think Scott Kazmir needs extra days of rest. I think Danny Salazar should move to the pen. I don’t like going to the pen so early, even with a 20 man bullpen. It just makes it more difficult having to piece the bullpen effort together for that many innings. TD:  I am not concerned because for the isn’t part it has worked. 11-5 in September so far and the bullpen has really pitched well. Plus, with 15 guys out there, you can make an easier bridge to the back end. Salazar followed by Hagadone/Carrasco (who has taken well to the pen) is just as good if not better than Kazmir and McAllister right now. Danny Salazar – should this be his last start? Can we move him into a setup role for the stretch run? Could Tomlin or Carrasco be that guy instead near the back end? Kirk: Yes, it should be. It’s nothing against him, but an inning in the 7th or 8th every other day could mean a lot more than three of four innings every fifth day. This is ONLY for the stretch run, mind you. I think Tomlin or Carrasco could be very important for some key innings down the stretch, and maybe one of them makes their way onto the postseason roster somehow. TD: With an off day ahead Monday, yes, this should be his last start and then send him to the pen where he can dominate. We all want to see him turn into David Price rookie year in October. After today, send him there. I think Carrasco will be a very valuable reliever the rest of the way and if they make the playoffs, could use him as well. Why not? High 90s power stuff for an inning where he can just let it go? Scott: No, it shouldn’t be his last start—not if the Indians have any conviction about this season whatsoever. Innings limits are fine. Taking out your most lethal arm when the rest of your rotation has some question marks would be a PR nightmare that could eventually cost them a postseason birth or (gulp) a World Series. Just ask Washington. If you were making out the lineup right now, who’s in there? Do you move Cabrera up in the order? Should Aviles or Raburn be getting more time? Is Stubbs the odd man out? TD: Go with last night’s lineup. Raburn in right, Stubbs on the bench. Yan catching. Tinker vs. lefties with Aviles for Chisenhall. Don’t move the order around there are 11 games left. Now is not the time to be playing head games. Scott: I don’t think you can put just one concrete lineup out there. Sure, the runs haven’t been growing on trees, but Tito’s done a fairly solid job of lineup construction this season. If that means Aviles or Raburn have to sit a game or two, it’s what has to be done. Trust what got you this far. Kirk: I would have Raburn in there every day, DH him if you have to. Aviles should be getting some more at bats at third over Lonnie. Gomes should be catching five out of every six days. DH him when he isn’t. What’s the magic number to secure a wild card slot outright in your mind? 87? 88? 89? 90 wins? Scott: All I know is that I’d feel a lot more comfortable with 90 as opposed to those which precede it. Kirk: I think 88 involves a playoff and 89 gets them a slot outright. That’s 7-4 to avoid a messy finish. TD: I think 89 is the magic number. That’s 7-4 the rest if the way. And with the schedule the way it is, I can easily see them eight or nine, but I think 7-4 is more realistic. (Photo: Scott Shaw/The Plain Dealer)
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