Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

What to do about Fausto?

How do you solve a problem like Fausto Carmona?

As if the Cleveland Indians didn’t have anything else to worry about, with their division lead down to a half-game (pending Detroit’s game Saturday night) and the non-existent offense, now the Tribe has to worry about what to do with their “ace” pitcher.

Friday night against the Yankees, Carmona was, to put it simply, horrible. He threw 14 of his first 18 pitches for balls and walked three in a 40-pitch first inning that saw the Yankees take a 3-0 lead.

“I haven’t seen him so divorced from the strike zone as he was today in the two years I’ve been here,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “His loading the bases in the first inning did him in.”

In his past six starts, Carmona has allowed 33 earned runs in 35 innings for a 8.49 ERA. He has won since May 3 and, since then, has five losses and two no-decisions.

So what does the Tribe do?

It’s clear the Carmona of 2007 is gone, and he is not coming back. But Carmona’s numbers for this year project out to be not that far off than his average of the past four seasons, although he is on pace to give up 30 homers, almost double what he has given up, on average, over the past four years.

The options for the Indians are limited and none, basically. They could try and trade Carmona, but what would they receive in return? 10 cents on the dollar? 20?

They can’t send him to minors without exposing him to waivers and someone would almost certainly claim him. And they are not going to just release him.

Fausto is always going to battle some inconsistency with his delivery because he flies open a little,” Acta told The Plain Dealer. “It’s more about getting the separation right between his off-speed stuff and the sinker.

“We’re going to look at everything. He’s had some really good starts this year. We have to find a happy medium.”

We’d be happy if Carmona could just find some consistency.

Maybe the best, and only option, is to start skipping his turn in the rotation when the schedule falls correctly. That’s probably more of a band-aid that an actual solution, however. But the team needs to do something.

The Indians have lost 13 of their past 17 games. They were seven games up on the Tigers when the streak started; that lead is now gone.

Saturday, the Tribe was shutout for the fifth time in the past 15 games …

The offense is in shambles (the Indians have scored three runs per game in the 17-game stretch, hitting .227 …

Mitch Talbot was ejected for hitting Alex Rodriguez with a pitch (Rodriguez taking a dive that would have embarrassed an Italian soccer player certainly helped) …

Bartolo Colon worked 6.2 scoreless innings with six strikeouts and only two hits (boy, were we ever wrong about the Tribe having a pitching edge this weekend).

It just doesn’t get worse than that.

The good news is there are still 100 games to go. The division lead may be gone, but that doesn’t mean the division is still not up for grabs.

Having a seven-game lead provided the Indians with a cushion for a slump and while we wish they wouldn’t have cashed in the entire lead, there is still a lot of baseball to be played.

Plus, where would the fun be if the Tribe didn’t give us all a healthy case of agita each summer?

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