Indians Picked Up By Rolling Rookie Pitchers

By: T.J. Zuppe

The Cleveland Indians were in a tight pinch as far as starting pitching, after pitchers Mitch Talbot was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a mid-back strain, and Jake Westbrook was sent packing via trade to the St. Louis Cardinals. As a result, the team had to fall back on a pair or rookie right-handers pitching on short, three-day rest.

Indians' Rookie Josh Tomlin

The team was rewarded when Josh Tomlin threw 5.1 innings on Saturday, and Jeanmar Gomez battled through five on Sunday in Toronto against the Blue Jays, both resulting in wins, as the Indians won two out of three in Canada.

In the 25 year-old Tomlin’s innings of work, he surrendered only 4 hits, and gave up only one earned run. He struck out five, walking two. The only run he gave up, was via the long-ball, as Blue Jays’ catcher Jose Molina took him deep in the fourth. Tomlin threw 82 pitchers, 53 of which strikes, and because of his short rest, was on a tight pitch count.

In Tomlin’s first two starts in the big leagues, he has tossed 12.1 superb innings, giving up seven hits and only allowing two runners to cross the plate. Opposing hitters are only hitting .163 against him.

Gomez, 21, favored just as well as Tomlin on Sunday, and gave up two runs on five hits in his five innings of work. He did not feature the same command he did in his big-league debut, but the majority of that can be attributed to his three days rest, as opposed to four in a normal pitching rotation. He also surrendered a solo homerun, this one to second-baseman Aaron Hill.

Gomez picked up his second win in as many tries for the Indians. In his 12 innings of work now with the Tribe, Gomez has only surrendered four runs, but only two of which earned, while giving up 10 hits total.

Indians' Rookie Jeanmar Gomez

Both pitchers are expected to remain in the Indians’ rotation for the foreseeable future, as both pitchers have pitched even better than anticipated. Indians manager Manny Acta will not get ahead of himself in excitement, but with both pitching well in two games, the Tribe has a small reason for optimism.

The real question will become; how will they respond when the league gets more of a book on the young rookies? Will they be able to bounce back off of a bad outing and will they be able to remain consistent?

Will they be able to separate themselves from other rookie starters like Jeremy Sowers, or Scott Lewis, who looked promising in their debuts, but fell off the map?

These are always biggest question marks with a young pitcher, especially without a true veteran in the rotation. Westbrook provided that quiet leadership and stability at the top, that allowed Fausto Carmona, and Talbot to blossom earlier this year. It should be interesting to see who emerges as the leader at the top of the Indians pitching staff during the rest of the season.

For now, the Indians are excited and interested to see if both Tomlin and Gomez will establish themselves as solid rookie right-handers in the Indians rotation over their next couple of starts. The rest will be up to them.

Next up for the team is a four-game series in Boston against the Red Sox, starting on Monday.

Follow T.J. Zuppe on Twitter @TJZuppe

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