In 2015, Josh Tomlin posted a 3.02 ERA despite a 1.8 HR/9 over 66 innings. That was possibly due to the fact he stranded 90 percent of his baserunners and was very stingy with walks. His home run rate actually got worse in 2016 and his strand rate went down to 71 percent, so his ERA spiked to 4.40. All of this was despite the fact he had the highest groundball rate of his career. The high homer rate, low walk rate and the fact his strikeout rate has declined for three straight seasons makes one wonder if Tomlin is the long lost son of former pitcher Dave Bush. The Indians may entrust him with a rotation spot to begin 2017, but he's hardly a lock to keep the job all season if his extreme long-ball tendencies persist.
Tomlin coughed up five runs and nine hits over 6.1 innings in Saturday's Cactus League start against the White Sox. The good news is that Tomlin didn't issue any free passes, but the bad news is that he served up four home runs to a division rival. Despite the uneven performance, he already has a spot in the team's rotation sewn up. Sometimes veterans use these opportunities to work on new pitches or tinker with their existing arsenal. Let's hope that's the case here.
Tomlin hummed through 3.2 scoreless innings Thursday, allowing three hits and no walks while striking out one, in his spring debut against the Angels. After setting a career high for innings pitched last season -- even before the Indians' deep postseason run -- it was a no-brainer for the Indians to bring bring Tomlin along slowly this spring. Even with a delayed opening act, he looked ready for regular-season action Thursday. He was so economical, facing just two more batters than the minimum, that manager Terry Francona allowed the right-hander to work into the fourth inning. "He always does that. He commands so well that when he's commanding like that he has quick innings," Francona said. Tomlin's 15 pitches per innings in 2016 finished tied for fifth best in MLB.
Tomlin will likely be limited in his pitch count during the early going of spring training, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. Given the injury plague that hit Cleveland last season, Tomlin was thrusted into extra duty during the postseason. The Tribe seems to be content giving the veteran some rest early on in Grapefruit League action, which should help him stay fresh as a rotation mainstay once the regular season rolls around.
Tomlin will be moved up to start Game 2 of the ALCS on Saturday, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports. This was necessary after Trevor Bauer suffered a non-baseball injury on his pinkie, which required several stitches. Bauer and Tomlin switched spots, with Bauer now slated to start Game 3 on Monday. Tomlin will be pitching on normal rest. He now lines up to start again in Game 6, if necessary.
Tomlin is scheduled to start Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com reports. Just as he did in the Divisional Series, Tomlin will take the ball for the Indians' first road game of the series. Nothing is set in stone, but this move would likely set up the 31-year-old to face Toronto's Opening Day starter Marcus Stroman.