By: T.J. Zuppe
With the Indians' addition of right-handed pitcher Brett Myers, the Tribe has addressed another question mark they were left with at the start of the off-season: stabilizing the starting five. Cleveland's starting rotation ERA was putrid last season and counting on Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Jeanmar Gomez (now designated for assignment), David Huff, Zach McAllister or Trevor Bauer to be large portions of the team's success in 2013 was a recipe for disaster.
So how do you handle changing that? By making the net larger.
Myers at a reported $7-million (plus a club option) is possibly more than you would like to pay a back-end starter (not exactly breaking the bank, either), but he does bring some limited upside. More than anything, even with his transition back to the rotation from the pen, he should be able to eat some quality innings.
That possibility gives general manager Chris Antonetti some options.
His flexibility allows him to either start or relieve, and if need be, close as he has in the past.
In addition, his presence may make for an attractive trade candidate in July should the Wahoos fall out of the race. And it may allow Antonetti a more legitimate possibility to at least listen on trade offers for righty Justin Masterson - someone I still do not foresee being moved.
In fact, the only real problem - which still makes me a bit hesitant to fully endorse - is if Myers prevents the Tribe from pursuing yet another starting arm, which, even with his addition, they still could use. If the search continues, which I expect it to, than Myers provides some rotation depth at little risk to the long-term goals of the club.
One-year deals are rarely crippling - unless like last season - when the re-signing of outfielder Grady Sizemore prevented the team from landing a legitimate left-field option.
While Myers does present some reasons for concern (velocity drop as starter, personality red flags), his on-the-field pitching capabilities are probably a pretty sure bet.
His strikeouts are down from earlier in his career, but his control rate is still solid as ever. He is prone to giving up the long-ball but Progressive Field is a fair park, maybe even trending more toward favoring pitchers. He has a tendency to allow more homers to righties, but again, Progressive Field dampers right-handed power a bit.
His splits and advanced metrics lead you to believe he should be better at home than on the road in '13.
The other unknown, how he reacts to pitching full-time in the American League. Though he spent a portion of last season with the Chicago White Sox (35 games, 3.12 ERA), it was coming out of the bullpen.
In his career, he has not fared well in inter-league play (5.64 ERA).
His pick-up grade will be contingent on the final pieces they put in place before the start of spring training. If they can add another starter before heading to Arizona, the acquisition of Myers should provide some needed depth and may be a pleasant surprise in 2013.
However, if he emerges as the Tribe's best starting option in '13, that likely spells something unfortunate and says more about his rotational mates.
On his own, not a reason to celebrate. But his signing is part of a larger, more pleasant picture.
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