Originally written on Burning River Baseball  |  Last updated 11/14/14
The Cleveland Indians starting pitching was a disaster in 2012. Based solely on ERA, the team had one of it's worst ten seasons in the long history of the franchise. There was no stopper in the rotation as noted by the teams multiple lengthy losing streaks and the average pitcher was very below average. In 2013, things look at least a little different. Carlos Carrasco is returning from Tommy John surgery and big offseason moves have brought in two new starters, Brett Myers and Trevor Bauer. There will be returning starters as well with at least three of the five starters from 2012 returning for 2013. Justin Masterson looks to return as the ace for the third straight season. In 2011, Masterson took over the role from Fausto Carmona and has went 23-25 since. While this doesn't seem like the kind of record an ace should produce, he has absolutely been the most dominant pitcher since the departure of Cliff Lee. He has lead the team in strike outs each season since 2010 and has averaged around 200 innings per season. With a new pitching coach in the fold, Masterson will be looking to regain his form from 2011 in an effort to bring some steadiness to the rotation. The other two returning starters from last season are Zach McAllister and Ubaldo Jimenez. McAllister was the most consistent pitcher in 2012, leading all regular starters with a 4.24 ERA. It was also Zach's rookie season, so he should have no where to go but up as he progresses in his career. Jimenez will remain in the rotation despite being a large part of the Indians downfall last year. In his short time with the Indians his ERA currently ranks 179th of the 182 pitchers who have pitched at least 200 innings for the Indians. On the bright side, Jimenez is better than Jaret Wright, Al Lopez and Earl Whitehill with his tremendous 5.43 ERA. Last season, Jimenez set the record for most wild pitches in a single season as an Indian as well. It will be interesting to see how long management puts up with his struggles as he tries to set other negative Indians records in 2013. Jimenez's team option for 2014 is nowhere near as attractive as his 2012 option so the Indians will probably not put up with as much as they have in the past. Brett Myers will be the Indians token free agent veteran in the rotation and will be a starter again for the first time since 2011. He has always been a reliable pitcher, throwing around 200 innings each season he was a starter and keeping an above average ERA. He should definitely be a step up from Derek Lowe last season, although like Lowe, may not make it through the entire season. If Jimenez doesn't struggle and Bauer doesn't make the rotation out of camp, Myers is the pitcher most likely to replaced first. An added benefit of Myers' versatility is that he will be able to move into a long relief role easily if he is removed from the rotation. Along with Trevor Bauer, the Indians have a few other options after the slated top five starters. David Huff is out of options and needs to make the team or be exposed to waivers when the season starts.The lefty pitched a few strong games for the Tribe at the end of 2012, but has been unremarkable throughout his career and doesn't necessarily deserve another chance. Corey Kluber is another pitcher who made a few starts last season and will be available if needed. Rich Hill and Scott Kazmir are other options if the Indians want to go with a left hander in the starting five to provide a different look every once in awhile. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Danny Salazar, Matt Langwell, Joe Martinez and T.J. House are also in camp trying for a starting role, but most likely the Indians will stick with what they have. Expect the rotation of Masterson, Jimenez, Myers, McAllister and Carrasco (in some order or another) to open the season, but don't be surprised if it doesn't make it through April intact. Can this former WBC MVP complete his new goal of defeating the Red Sox?
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