Some All-Star break notes on the pitching staff

  • Justin Masterson is the 8th Indians pitcher (min 75 IP) since 1990 to post a pre-All-Star Break ERA under 3.00 and the first since Cliff Lee in 2008. The lowest in that time span belongs to Tom Candiotti (2.24 in 1991), who didn’t even make the All-Star team that year.
  • Josh Tomlin is the 10th Tribe pitcher since 1990 with double-digit wins before the All-Star break, but does so with the third-highest ERA of the group. The highest ERA in that span belongs to Charles Nagy, who went 11-4 with a 4.43 ERA in the first half in 1999.
  • Joe Smith has the lowest ERA (min 25 IP) of any Tribe pitcher since 1957 (as far back as the baseballmusings database goes). The previous low belonged to Derek Lilliquist (1.13) in 1993.
  • Amazingly, Mitch Talbot‘s 6.33 ERA is only the 4th highest by a Tribe pitcher (min 10 starts) before the break in the past five seasons. Fausto Carmona (7.42 in 2009), Jeremy Sowers (6.93 in 2007) and David Huff (6.71 in 2009) were all worse. Carmona’s dreadful 2007 first half is the Tribe’s worst since 1957. The only other pitcher above 7.00 in that span was Don Schulze (7.27) in 1985.

The ups and downs of June

It was a strange month for the Tribe’s pitching staff, as we saw some brilliant and some dreadful performances.

On the positive side, Carlos Carrasco emerged as a potential top of the rotation pitcher. After allowing five runs in his first start of the month against the Rangers, he allowed just four in his next five starts – good for a 0.98 ERA. Overall, he posted a 1.90 ERA in June, among the best in recent memory.

On the flip side, Fausto Carmona was awful, proving once again that he simply doesn’t have the mental makeup to ever be an ace. In five June starts, Carmona posted a 7.62 ERA – the worst in the month since Dave Burba in 2000. Dating back to May 19, Carmona is 1-7 with an 8.58 ERA.

David Price shuts down Tribe

Made my first trip to The Jake this season and was rudely greeted by David Price on his A-game. In eight innings of work Price allowed just two runs while striking out seven and didn’t allow a single walk.

He’s just the eighth pitcher to come into Jacobs Field and toss eight innings and strike out at least seven without issuing a free pass.

It’s a pretty eclectic list, but features a few impressive names such as Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez. The only game on the list which they Indians won was a brilliant 1-0 showdown between Fausto Carmona and Josh Beckett in 2007 (click on the date for the box score).

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO
1 David Price 2011-05-11 TBR CLE W 8-2 GS-8 ,W 8.0 5 2 2 0 7
2 Kevin Slowey 2009-04-25 MIN CLE W 7-1 GS-9 ,W 8.0 8 1 1 0 7
3 Josh Beckett 2007-07-25 BOS CLE L 0-1 CG 8 ,L 8.0 4 1 1 0 7
4 Jarrod Washburn 2001-08-19 ANA CLE W 4-1 GS-9 ,W 8.0 4 1 1 0 7
5 Cory Lidle 2001-07-31 OAK CLE W 11-2 GS-8 ,W 8.0 6 2 2 0 7
6 Pedro Martinez 1999-05-29 BOS CLE W 4-2 GS-9 ,W 8.0 5 2 2 0 9
7 David Wells 1998-06-20 NYY CLE W 5-3 GS-8 ,W 8.0 8 2 2 0 9
8 Randy Johnson 1995-07-07 SEA CLE W 5-3 CG 9 ,W 9.0 8 3 2 0 13

Carmona channeling his inner Dave Otto

In the baseball-reference searchable era (1919-present) only 11 Indians starters have yielded 10 or more runs in a game, the most recent, of course, being Fausto Carmona.

Carmona followed up that forgettable performance with seven innings of shutout ball against the Red Sox today. If you think that’s a rare turn of events you would be very much correct.

Of the previous 10 Tribesmen to allow 10 runs in a start, only Dave Otto bounced back with a shutout performance in his next start. On May 9, 1992 Otto was shelled for 10 runs against the Twins. After the game Otto was placed on the DL with tendinitis in his shoulder, but returned just over two weeks later on May 26 to face the A’s.

In that next outing Otto would shutdown the A’s, who would go on the win the AL West, holding them scoreless in six innings of work. And, just as they did against the Red Sox, the Tribe won 1-0 – powered by a solo home run off the bat of Mark Lewis.

More on Carmona from the AP: He’s the first major league pitcher in 106 years to allow 10 or more runs in his first start of a season and then no runs in his next start, without relief appearances between those games. The last pitcher to do that was a guy named Dick Harley for the 1905 Boston Beaneaters. [Fun fact: those were actually the first two starts of Harley’s career, and he made only two more.]

Indians starters off to historically bad start

Through the first two games of the season Fausto Carmona and Carlos Carrasco have allowed a combined 17 earned runs. It’s the first time since 1950 that a team’s starting pitcher allowed 7+ earned run in each of its first two games of the season. That year the Red Sox and Yankees beat each other up, as all four starters involved in the first two games allowed at least seven runs.

On a positive note, Jack Hannahan has driven in runs in each of his first two games with the Tribe. If he drives in another one today he’ll be the first player with RBI in his first three games in an Indians uniform since Eduardo Perez (four straight) in 2006. Prior to Perez, you have to go back to Gomer Hodge in 1971.

Opening Day notes

  • Carlos Santana was back in the lineup batting cleanup, a rare slot for a 24-year-old catcher. Since 1919 (as far back as baseball-reference game finder goes) only four other catchers have batted cleaning on opening day for the Tribe (Victor Martinez did so three times). And perhaps more noteworthy, Santana is the youngest catcher to bat cleanup in his team’s season opener since Hall of Famer Gary Carter in 1978.
  • Fausto Carmona‘s 10 earned runs allowed set a Tribe record for opening day (since 1919, of course). It’s also the most allowed by any pitcher in his team’s opener since Early Wynn, pitching for the Senators, allowed 10 to the Yankees in 1948. It was his final year in Washington before joining the Tribe. [Update: according to The Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN) Carmona was the first pitcher in baseball history to allow 10 runs in three innings or less on opening day.]
  • Jack Hannahan became just the 3rd Indians No. 9 hitter to go deep on opening day (since 1919) joining Ron Pruitt (1978 vs Royals) and Bob Lemon (1953 vs White Sox).

Carmona is Tribe’s lone All-Star

For the second straight season the Indians will be sending just one representative to the All-Star Game. This year it’s Fausto Carmona, making his first appearance.

According to the Indians website (and considering they also list Jody Gerut as a Rookie of the Year winner, should be taken with a grain of salt), it’s the 21st time in franchise history they’ve had just one representative at the game.

A few other notes on Carmona’s selection…

  • It’s also the 6th time since 2002 that they’ve had only one selection, following a 10-year stretch during which they had multiple selections every year.
  • He joins CC Sabathia (2003) and Bert Blyleven (1985) as the only Indians starting pitchers to be their lone All-Star selections since 1980.
  • He joins Sabathia, Jake Westbrook (2004) and Chuck Finley (2000) as the only starts to make the All-Star team since 2000.

Again, these notes are very unofficial. The Indians don’t keep the best historical records. At some point I’ll use other sources to verify an official list of Tribe All-Star selections.