Picking up Derek Lowe for what’s essentially a one-year, $5 million contract is a smart move for the Indians, as he pitched much better than his ERA suggests this season and if healthy should be a solid third or fourth starter.
Shortly before trading for Lowe the Indians also exercised their $7 million option on Fausto Carmona and together the two moves more or less solidify the rotation as Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Carmona, Lowe, and Josh Tomlin.
That’s potentially a very strong group, although certainly not without significant question marks. It’s also an extremely ground-ball heavy group, as Lowe, Masterson, and Carmona were three of the 10 starters across baseball to induce at least 54 percent grounders this season and Jimenez wasn’t far behind at 47.2 percent.
Tomlin is a fly-ball pitcher, but four-fifths of the rotation would be set up to thrive if the Indians can put a strong infield behind them. Asdrubal Cabrera is locked in at shortstop and sophomores Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall will likely be the starters at second base and third base.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.