July 29, 2014

Cut by the Tribe, Aaron Harang is dominating for Atlanta

Aaron HarangRemember Aaron Harang? One of the journeymen starters the Tribe signed to a minor league deal this spring? After being told he would not start the season in the majors with Cleveland, Harang signed with Atlanta, jumping at a chance to round out a big league rotation. Not only has Harang filled out he Braves’ rotation in the early goings this season, the 35 year old right hander has been nothing short of dominant.

In his latest start, Harang struck out 11 and gave up just one run in over six innings of work — just another gem in a string of beautiful starts for the man who was passed over for the Indians’ rotation in favor of the struggling Carlos Carrasco. The six hits given up in Harang’s last start were the most given up in any of his five starts to begin the 2014 season. In just over 31 innings across 5 starts, the veteran has struck out just over a batter an inning and boasts an ERA nearing Blutarski territory of 0.85.

The crown jewel of Harang’s hot start came just over a week ago when the long time Cincinnati Red tossed seven no hit innings before being replaced for the 8th. Harang’s fastball still touches north of 90, which proved to be one of the Braves’ deciding factors in opting for him over Freddy Garcia to be their over the hill veteran of choice. As chronicled by Cory McCartney of Fox Sports, this is the first time since the 2010 season in which Harang has had his fastball working at that velocity, a necessity for the man who led the national league in strikeouts back in 2006 with Cincinnati.

In his time with the Tribe this spring Harang looked good throwing the ball, posting a 2.00 ERA in two starts, and picking up the win in each outing. At the time Harang’s fate with the Indians was sealed, Tribe General Manager Chris Antonetti praised the veteran for how he’d looked so far during the spring.

“Aaron has pitched really well in camp, but as we looked through how we’d configure our rotation, we’ll likely go in a another direction,” said Antonetti. “A lot can change in the next several days, but we had a decision to make on Aaron and we made it.”

Hind sight is 20/20 and small sample sizes in baseball are a big no-no, but it’s still hard to ignore the early season success of Harang. Compound Harang’s success with the dismal start of Carlos Carrasco (7.31 ERA) and Danny Salazar (7.85 ERA) and one can’t help second guess if Antonetti and Francona made the wrong decision.

[Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]

[Related: Bourn, Bullpen, and Bitter Cold: Tribe edge Royals late]

Tribe Weekend Recap: Poor fundamentals, RISP problems, Carrasco watch, and an Easter gift

Michael BrantleyThe weekend at Progressive Field did not go as planned for the home team. The visiting Toronto Blue Jays, with hordes of their fans on hand after making the four-plus-hour trek down from Ontario, took of three from your Cleveland Indians and may have come away with the sweep if not for a managerial blunder and one big hit from one of the few Wahoos who is actually hitting in the clutch. It was more of the the same from the team who has sputtered out of the gate. But as the Tribe’s most outspoken player, Nick Swisher, reminded us “We started last season 5-10. Lets not all jump off the bridge just yet.”

Manager Terry Francona held a team meeting before Sunday’s come from behind 6-4 win to refocus his group. “Nobody likes coming to the ballpark and having to look at your record when it’s not what you want it to be,” he told his team. “That’s just plain and simple. Saying that, I don’t want them dragging in here. It’s a new day. We need to make it be a better day. And then also, not look too far in the future. Just take care of today. If you do that enough, man, it always seems to work out.”

Whether or not it will light a fire under his team is up for debate, but Francona is as good as it gets inside that clubhouse. It was the right move at the right time. The Tribe’s fundamentals have been subpar for three weeks and it has clearly affected them. The good news is that we are 18 games into a 162-game season. Yes, they lost a home series, but the season is a marathon, not a sprint. [Read more...]

Francisco Lindor’s homer propels Tribe

Lindor HRYouth was served as the Indians improved to 3-1 in the Cactus League with a 6-3 win over the Mariners on Sunday.

In his only at-bat of the game, uber-prospect Francisco Lindor belted a three run homerun to break a three all tie and propel the Indians to the win. Lindor now has a pair of hits in his six at-bats this spring.

“It was a good swing. It’s exciting for us to see that,” Terry Francona said. “We get a kick out of that every day when one of our young kids does something.”

In addition to Lindor’s homerun, second baseman Jason Kipnis had an RBI triple and Nick Swisher, playing in his first game this spring, had an RBI and a hit. Lindor is in his first big league spring camp and is expected to open the season in AAA Columbus.

Aaron Harang started the game and was relieved by Trevor Bauer. Both are competing for the fifth spot in the rotation. Both pitched a pair of innings on Sunday. Harang gave up a run on one hit, while Bauer surrendered a two run home run in the fourth. The rest of the staff shut the Mariners out in their five innings of work.

[Related: What's new at Progressive field in 2014]

The Indians’ offseason hunt for a veteran starting pitcher

The Scott Kazmir signing was nice and all, but it’s not going to be it for the Cleveland Indians in the starting pitching market. All offseason, the Tribe’s front office has expressed its desire to sign one more free agent starter: a veteran that could provide some more depth to the rotation.

Entering 2013, the starters for the Tribe are Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez, then likely Zach McAllister and Trevor Bauer. As I broke down last week following the Bauer-Shin Soo Choo trade, there are no other immediate options in Columbus or elsewhere. Indians fans would simply see the usual revolving door at No. 5 should no other pitcher join the fold: a la Jeanmar Gomez, Carlos Carrasco, et al.

So what’s left on the market for the Indians? Reportedly, Cleveland was on the short list of suitors for RHP Edwin Jackson, who signed a 4-year, $52 million deal with the Cubs earlier this week. But with the New Year approaching, the list is shrinking quickly. [Read more...]

On The Flip Side

Reds 4, Indians 3 (box)

Brandon Phillips, Home Run
Yep, we used to have this guy

My, how the tides turn.  We can now officially end any streaks out there in regards to starting pitchers.  Well, unless you want to go Major League and say “no earned runs by any pitcher that wasn’t called-up from Triple-A the day before.”  I guess that could work.  But Jeremy Sowers was less than spectacular yesterday, giving up three earned in five innings of work. 

Of course, the first two runs just had to be at the hands of Brandon Phillips, right?  Any chance that Phillips glares into the Tribe dugout each time he proceeds to produce for the Reds?  I wouldn’t put it past him given the past.  But it’s not like we didn’t come back to put the game within reach.

[Read more...]