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.
As we moved to the top of the eighth inning things started to loosen up. Which was good for the American League but not for the Senior Circuit.
Josh Hader of the Brewers was pitching and, in very un-2018-style, the American League strung together a couple of hits, with Shin-Soo Choo and George Springer singling. At that point Jen Segura of the Mariners came to the plate while Joe Buck spoke to National League outfielder Charlie Blackmon on the mic. Blackmon was entertaining until Joey Votto failed to corral a would-be foul out from Segura, at which point he tensed up a bit. Then Segura launched a massive three-run homer to left. Blackmon called Buck “bad luck,” Mitch Moreland singled and Blackmon said that if the next pitch wasn’t a double play ball, he was bailing on the broadcast.
With the Americans leading 5-2, Dave Roberts made a pitching change, bringing in Brad Hand with one out in the inning. Buck bid adieu to Blackmon, for which Blackmon seemed thankful. These mic’d up players are fun, but there’s a limit to how much distraction they’ll endure, even in a meaningless exhibition game.
Hand struck out Michael Brantley and then