CLEVELAND -- Barely one month ago, pitcher Josh Tomlin was out of the starting rotation for the Cleveland Indians after struggling his way through six August starts, but times have surely changed for the Tyler, Texas, native.
Tomlin once again finds himself in the rotation and will take the ball for Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park today with a chance to close out the best-of-five set and put the Indians into the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2007.
“I think what happened over the course of August, he started getting a little bit backwards in his cutter, fastball usage,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He’s not our hardest throw, so he has to pitch in, and when he pitches in aggressively, it opens the plate up.
“Over the course of five, six, seven starts in August, it had kind of almost reversed, and when we gave him a start, start-and-a-half off, ten-day blow there, it allowed him also to kind of look at some things like, ‘Hey, how do I want to pitch, and how do I pitch when I’m successful?’”
In those six August starts, Tomlin posted an 0-5 record with an 11.48 earned run average. Despite striking out 21 hitters against just six walks allowed over 26.2 innings of work, Tomlin surrendered 46 hits, including a team-high 10 home runs, as well as 35 runs, 34 of which were earned, in those August outings.
Tomlin made it out of the fifth inning in just one of those six starts.
Entering September, Tomlin was 11-8 with a 4.89 ERA in his 25 starts. Over 147.1 innings of work prior to the change in the rotation, Tomlin allowed 166 hits, 80 earned runs and a team-high 35 home runs despite having a better than 5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Tomlin carried a stellar 11-3 record and 3.43 ERA into August.
However, the veteran right-hander seemed to find his rhythm in the nick of time.
After being reinserted into the starting rotation following a rash of injuries, Tomlin won two of his four starts and had one no-decision over 25.2 innings of work against the Royals and Chicago White Sox.
Tomlin allowed just five earned runs, one home run and no walks with 10 strikeouts over those four starts.
“We give him a lot of credit because he used the time to his advantage,” Francona said. “And he came back being the guy that we had had the first three months. Nobody wants to have injuries, but the fact that he’s going to start a playoff game for us, I think is very fitting.
“He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever seen in my life, and our guys will be excited he’s pitching.”