A four game series loss to the Twins has placed the Indians in last place in the American League Central, at least momentarily. The Indians have been almost eliminated from the playoffs and will probably be officially by the end of the week. Since a .500 record is no longer attainable at this point, the Indians will have to lower their goals once again. The absolute minimum would be to not lose 100 games, but they only have to win three of their last 21 to avoid this, an extremely modest and depressing goal. A positive goal, rather than avoiding a negative, would be to pass the Royals again for a hold of third place. This is entirely possible with the Indians just 4.5 games back and if the team took it seriously, would give them motivation for actually winning a game or two and let them feel the pressure of trying to win late in the season.
The good news in facing Harrison this time is that the Indians can't hit right handed pitching either. This is actually a good test for the Indians to try Russ Canzler at first, since he could possibly playing there next season. It would give them another right handed bat in the lineup and allow them to possibly play Vinny Rottino or Thomas Neal in left field while DHing Matt LaPorta. This replaces three positions usually held by left handed batters with righties, all of which are competing for jobs next year.
Both Gomez and McAllister were used for limited innings in their starts against Minnesota. David Huff and Chris Seddon were used as long relief and Huff in particular was very effective. This could be a continuing trend throughout the season if Manny Acta decides to pull these young starters after the first sign of trouble. While this will spread the innings to more pitchers, it won't help the Indians find out which pitchers can go deep into games. If the Indians really want to give either Huff or Seddon a chance, they need to start a game and pitch into at least the sixth inning to show they physically can. The same is true of Gomez. If they are going to keep pulling him after less than five innings, there is no reason to believe he will be able to pitch more than five innings next year. Assuming a 2013 rotation of Masterson, Jimenez, Carrasco and McAllister, there is just a single opening in the rotation for all the pitchers listed above. If the Indians can use this last month intelligently and make their decision now, the extra starters could be used as trade bait or released in the offseason instead of inviting them into Spring Training for a job they can never get.
It is almost surprising that the Indians aren't talking about shutting down McAllister down in a Stephen Strasburg way. He has thrown more than 100 innings this year in his first full Major League season. Of course by limiting him to just over 5 innings per game, the Indians have already kept down his total innings total. If he continues pitching as he had he will only throw another 20 innings or so this year. What amazing forsight to keep him from throwing too many innings this year. If only the Nationals had though to pull Strasburg every time he threw into the sixth inning, he would still be around to win the a championship.