if the past few games are anything to go by, our starting rotation will be absolutely nothing to worry about. In three days, first Webb, then Haren, and now Max Scherzer have allowed one run each in their start. That's a mere three runs over a total of 18 innings, on eleven hits, with a strikeout to walk ratio which sits at a cool 17:1. Scherzer was as economic as any of them, taking sixty-one pitches to get through those five innings - four of which saw him retire the Indians in order. The Indians managed four hits, all singles; three of them came to consecutive hitters, leading to their only score against Scherzer, in the second. He said after the game, "Throwing first-pitch strikes allowed me to keep my pitch count down. The ground balls were great, but the best thing I did today was not walk anybody."
Scherzer faced only two batters over the minimum in his five frames of work, while Leo Rosales, Josh Ellis and Bobby Korecky each added a scoreless inning of their own. The only blot on the collective pitching copybook was Daniel Schlereth's seventh, where he allowed two hits and a walk, resulting in two runs, both scoring on a double by Cleveland catcher Damaso Espino [who drove in all three of the Indians' runs]. Otherwise, Arizona pitching did the job almost impeccably, though it has to be said, the line-up the Indians brought to Tucson appears to have been more evidence that teams do not like sending their top-tier players down the I-10.
Offensively, Chris Snyder was the star, going 3-for-3, including his team-leading third homer of the spring. Both are catchers are tearing it up at the plate in the Cactus League: Snyder has a line of .382/.475/.735, while Miguel Montero isn't far behind at all, at .364/.488/.576. They've combined for five home-runs and seventeen RBI in 67 at-bats. Meanwhile, Conor Jackson failed to leave the park for the sixty-eighth consecutive game - 17 in spring-training and the last 51 of last season, now covering 247 at-bats. I know he's not trying to hit them, but you'd think he might have got into one pitch over that time, merely by accident. Josh Wilson knocked two in with a triple as part of the three-run Arizona second, and was immediately followed by a Scherzer RBI single.
However, it appears that Mad Max will start the season on the DL. Don't be alarmed though: it's largely because we don't need a fifth starter until April 14th, so we might as well use the roster spot for someone who won't simply be hanging around the dugout. This will mean he won't be able to appear in games for which admission is charged, so he'll get his work in minor-league games, while Travis Blackley has been announced as Scherzer's replacement in the April 2nd game against the Rockies [also nice to keep him out of a game against our divisional rivals]
The spare slot, while only there for little more than a week, could potentially be used for an extra bullpen pitcher or to carry both Ryan Roberts and James Skelton - either could be useful, since we have a couple of potential relief arms [Juan Gutierrez and Blackley] who are out of options, and Skelton has to be on the roster or offered back to the Tiger. Melvin wouldn't be drawn on the bullpen battle: "The out of options guys...have been intriguing or impressive at times. I think guys like Slaten, Rosales, Buckner, Korecky, have also done some positive things. Slaten and Buckner, in particular, have been sharp of late." There: I think he named just above everyone still in training camp.
That's about it. 'Skins was at the game, so he can update this post with his eye-witness opinion of Scherzer's prowess and the photos, toss them in the comments, or whatever works best.