CLEVELAND — The Indians have been trying to figure out what’s wrong with Josh Tomlin.
They may have located at least part of the problem.
Tomlin hasn’t pitched well all season, but he’s been especially brutal as of late and Tuesday the right-hander went on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain.
Manager Terry Francona said Tomlin told him following a poor outing in a 7-5 loss to the Reds on Monday that he has been dealing with the issue.
“We finally corralled him and got him to kind of own up to his hammy, (that it) was bothering him,” Francona said. “You know, watching him, I’m kind of kicking myself a little bit because I knew something wasn’t right. On the one hand, you appreciate guys who’ll go out there. But it just was getting in the way. He can pitch with it, he’s just not pitching the way he needs to.”
Adam Plutko was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to replace Tomlin on the roster, but Francona said he was only in Cleveland as protection for the bullpen and that the right-hander, who has spent four separate stints with the Indians, would likely be returning to Columbus’ rotation soon.
Tomlin, 33, opened the year as the fifth starter, but lost his spot in the rotation early in the season. He’s allowed 38 earned runs (21 home runs) over 49 innings in 23 appearances.
Tomlin has allowed the third-most homers in the majors — tied with Texas’ Cole Hamels — behind Kansas City’s Jakob Junis (24) and Texas’ Bartolo Colon (22), but those three pitchers have each worked over 100 innings. Tomlin is on pace to post the worst ratio of homers allowed per nine innings in major league history.
“I have to come back and figure out why it’s not good enough and make that adjustment, because right now, it’s not good enough, period,” said Tomlin, who allowed a two-run homer in the ninth inning Monday. “That’s the only thing I can do, just try to figure out what I’m doing, either mentally, physically, whatever the case may be, and try to get it figured out as quickly as I can.”
Tomlin has overcome injuries and extended struggles before, delivering a gutsy performance during Cleveland’s postseason run two years ago.
“He’s the Little Cowboy, man,” right-hander Mike Clevinger said following Monday’s loss. “He’s a big part of the reason we were where we were the last two years, and people seem to overlook that. If you didn’t see what he did in October (in 2016), even down the stretch, you’re missing a big, big piece. I mean, he works too hard not to find it back, so I think we all have faith in him.”
“He’ll never stop working,” Francona said. “I have no doubt he’ll find a way to contribute to our team, even on the DL, because that’s who he is.”
- A second opinion confirmed that right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall has a grade 3 left calf strain. He missed nearly two months with a similar injury to his right calf and is expected to be sidelined for 8-10 weeks this time.
In other injury news, Francona said the Indians have the ability to activate left-hander Tyler Olson (right lat strain) from the disabled list today. But with veteran left-handers Oliver Perez and Marc Rzepczysnki already in the bullpen, there is no guarantee Olson rejoins the Indians.
- Reliever Nick Goody (right elbow inflammation) has begun a return-to- throw program. The right-hander has been on the injured list since May 4.
Raking at home
Left fielder Michael Brantley entered Tuesday owning a .352 batting average at Progressive Field, the fifth-highest home average in the American League. Of his 51 RBIs through Monday, 35 had come at home (fourth in the AL).
The three-time All-Star had reached base safely in 28 of his last 29 home games through Monday, including a career-high 27-game streak from May 1-July 7.
Kings of K
Clevinger’s season high-matching 11 strikeouts Monday pushed his season total to 110 over 116 innings.
He joined Trevor Bauer (156 through Monday), Corey Kluber (123) and Carlos Carrasco (103) to give Cleveland four pitchers with over 100 strikeouts prior to the All-Star break.
The Indians are one of three teams to accomplish that this season, joining Houston and Boston. It’s only happened five times in MLB history, with Cleveland also doing it in 2015 (Kluber, Bauer, Carrasco and Danny Salazar).
- Columbus was represented by six players — outfielder Brandon Barnes (.283, 10 HRs, 56 RBIs), shortstop Yu Chang (.259, seven HRs, 39 RBIs), catchers Francisco Mejia (.279, seven HRs, 42 RBIs) and Eric Haase (.235, nine HRs, 40 RBIs) and pitchers Mitch Talbot (2-3, 3.62 ERA) and Adam Wilk (3-7, 4.25) — in Tuesday’s Triple-A All-Star game at the Clippers’ Huntington Park.
- Double-A Akron’s Connor Marabell (.291, nine HRs, 51 RBIs) participated in Tuesday’s Eastern League Home Run Derby.
- The U.S House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday to award Indians Hall of Famer Larry Doby with a Congressional Gold Medal. Doby broke the color barrier in the AL for Cleveland in 1947.
- Second baseman Jason Kipnis entered Tuesday with seven homers since May 26, tied for the second-most with Houston’s Jose Altuve in the AL at his position behind the Angels’ Ian Kinsler (nine).