As the dog days of Spring Training are among us, the Cleveland Indians are weighing their options for the 5th starter on the staff. Josh Tomlin is the favorite to win the job with only 12 days until the Indians start their American League title defense. Josh Tomlin pitched well (enough) in the 2016 Postseason to at least earn him the spot for now, but Mike Clevinger and Ryan Merritt should not be overlooked.
Mike Clevinger has had a rocky spring to date, sporting an 11.12 ERA and 2.47 WHIP in only 5.2 IP. Things are not looking good for Clevinger as of now, but his mighty fastball should boost his numbers in the bullpen for the time being. Ryan Merritt makes this conversation very interesting. The 25 year old southpaw started Game 5 of the ALCS in Toronto last season, pitching four and a third innings of shut out ball. Ryan would be the only LHP on the Indians' starting staff, which would bring some balance to the rotation. As expected, Merritt has recently been sent down to AAA Columbus to start the year, a league where Merritt's late moving lefty breaking ball can certainly raise some eyebrows.
Josh Tomlin should be the guy on the mound come April 8th when the fifth spot in the rotation comes to turn in Arizona. His 12-6 curve ball is his best pitch, as it is the perfect counter to his letter high fastball that Josh likes to use early in counts. As long as the Tribe staff stays healthy throughout the year, Tomlin should remain comfortable and serviceable in the 5th spot. Tomlin was able to rack up 13 wins last season and should hover around that mark again this year, especially with some great run support.