Huff Regressing With 2012 Starting Rotation in Question

By: T.J. Zuppe

One of the biggest questions facing the Indians as they enter the 2012 season is the back-end of the starting rotation. There is little doubt as to who will anchor the top, presumably being Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and a mending Josh Tomlin.

The last two spots will be fought out between incumbent right-handers Fausto Carmona, depending on club’s intentions of keeping him, Jeanmar Gomez, Zach McAllister and left-hander David Huff.

Unfortunately for Huff, he has done little lately to build on momentum heading into an important decision-filled offseason for the Tribe.

Indians Pitcher David Huff

The 27-year old lefty has struggled mightily since giving the team a big boost in the middle of a division race, earlier in 2011. So much so, that his once sparkling numbers no longer look so glamorous.

Since posting a 2.08 earned run average in his first six appearances, five of which starts, Huff has looked much more like the pitcher the team had seen in the two years prior.

In his last four starts, including Monday’s rain-shortened 12-6 laugher at the hands of the Mariners, he has surrendered 25 runs, 15 earned and 26 hits over 19 innings of work.

He picked up the loss in all four of those games.

For a hurler needing to build a resume heading into the offseason, he has spent more time erasing the positive from memory. More importantly, he does not seem to be getting better with more experience.

When Huff was recalled back in July, he shocked everyone with his aggressive attack of the strike zone, hitters included. He made quick work of the opposition and looked like an entirely different pitcher.

Most of all, he looked like he trusted his stuff.

Flash forward to Monday, Huff was no longer that same guy. As the rest of the league made adjustments to his aggressiveness, he has struggled to do the same.

Will he ever be able to? It seemed he had, but time has given way to the same player the Indians have seen over the past few seasons.

So what does this mean to the front office’s decision making in the offseason regarding the rotation? That truly is the million-dollar question.

Gomez has shown flashes and still has youth on his side. McAllister will face another audition on Tuesday, in one of the two double-header games with the White Sox.

The future of Carmona is anyone’s guess.

It is very likely the team will target a veteran starter in the offseason, however that still leaves one spot unaccounted for, with the Tommy John surgery recovery leaving Carlos Carrasco out of the mix.

Because of that, it does appear Huff will have a legitimate shot at one of the open slots in the back of the rotation. But he will really have to earn it, with others presenting more possible upside.

For that to happen, he will have to find a way to discover more consistency on the hill and make secondary adjustments. The past has shown his inability to do so.

If it does not, his consideration for being part of the future of the team will be in serious doubt.

Follow T.J. Zuppe on Twitter @TJZuppe


1 Comment

  1. I think the Indians have to pick up Carmona’s option unless they are seriously going to use his salary to get a long term answer that is good now. Carmona is just too good when he is on to give up. He’s the type of guy I could see pitching lights out for another team in the right situation and he’s still young.

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