Jeanmar Gomez’s time in the rotation, or even in Cleveland itself, has to be coming to an end soon, right? After his latest clunker Saturday against the Astros, Gomez’s numbers are barely – barely– above replacement value. His peripherals – 4.32 K/9, which ranks among the worst in baseball, 3.21 BB/9, 1.23 HR/9 – are horrible and his ERA estimators, statistics used to measure a pitcher’s true performance level, are equally poor.
His FIP, fielding independent pitching, is 5.11; his xFIP, expected fielding independent pitching, is 4.97; and his SIERA, skill-interactive ERA, is 4.85. All of which happen to closely parallel is actual ERA, 5.18, so there’s no reason to expect some type of improvement based on luck. Any improvement, of course, would have to happen from actual skill, which would be modest at best given his minor league track record.
McAllister should get the first look. He’s more polished than Barnes and already has eight big league starts under his belt, four each of the last two seasons. Plus, his strikeout rates, which were rather unimpressive in his first year in Triple-A, rebounded and held firm the past two seasons there. He’s been a bit lucky in his abbreviated work this year, only averaging 0.36 HR/9, and is due to regress as well, but he should be about a two- to 2.5-win pitcher this season.
Barnes is a bit of a power lefty with a touch of command issues historically. He’s got an above-average fastball and probably the higher ceiling, but right now the team really isn’t in a position to gamble too much more. Leaving him in the bullpen to begin his career, a la the Earl Weaver way, is more than fine and, actually, preferred at this point because it adds a second left-hander and overall depth.
The Indians, despite a 37-33 record and a one game lead in their division, have been incredibly lucky thus far, sporting a -36 run differential. They’re due for a rather large regression at some point this season and replacing their worst starting pitcher, Gomez, with a better one, either McAllister or Scott Barnes could prove to be a big difference maker. And with the offense floundering, run prevention is another way to add wins and improve the differential.
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