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Questions In Tribe Rotation Not Answered Yet (page 620157)

By T.J. ZUPPE, 92.3 The Fan Indians Beat Reporter
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Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson / (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson / (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

TJ_300x300 T.J. Zuppe
T.J. Zuppe began his broadcasting career in 2008 and has covered major...
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CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Indians’ starting pitching staff was the biggest of the team’s question marks entering the 2014 season.

They have done little to squelch those concerns as of yet.

Ace Justin Masterson, looking anything but, had some rare inconsistencies that led to a 3.2 inning performance in Sunday’s 10-7 loss to the Minnesota Twins. It was the latest hiccup in what cannot become a trend.

After Masterson’s strong seven scoreless innings on Opening Day, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister, Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco and Masterson have combined to allow 21 runs and 14 walks in 22.2 innings over the last five games.

The Indians have gone 2-3 in that brief stretch.

To be fair, the answers were not going to come in Spring Training. They certainly were not going to come in the first week of the season. And we will need more than one trip through the rotation to draw any strong and relevant conclusions.

However, the last five starts by Tribe starters have not been the consistent efforts the club was hoping for.

Command has been an issue through stretches for all five starters. However, the organization is not prepared to hit the panic button.

“I don’t think that you start to give up on your guys on April 6th,” manager Terry Francona said. “Not saying that we don’t want to do better… but I think you can rush to judgement, and miss out on some really good players.”

He is correct.

All five, Masterson included, need much more than a handful of starts under their belts to truly assess. If conclusions were based on early season performances, there is a strong possibility neither Ubaldo Jimenez or Scott Kazmir would have had the opportunity to impact the club the way they did in the 2013 playoff run.

But without a true track record behind Masterson, Cleveland’s starting rotation needs to reach for the high ceiling the organization envisions, and prove that a lack of a track record does not equal the inability to be a consistently good starting five.

The only way to do that? Silence the concerns and critics with consistent performances.

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