CLEVELAND -- On the literal front, David Huff survived a scary knock on the noggin on an Alex Rodriguez line drive in the Bronx last month. But on the figurative front, the left-handed Huff has found survival in the big leagues to be a difficult venture this season. The Indians optioned the struggling Huff to Triple-A Columbus on Monday. They'll have to call someone up to replace him in the rotation on Friday in Cincinnati. That move will be announced before Tuesday's series opener in Philadelphia.
Two obvious options exist at Columbus. One is right-hander Carlos Carrasco, the player Huff beat out for the final rotation spot at the end of Spring Training. Carrasco has been inconsistent this season, which is why Huff had the leeway to continue to get the ball every fifth day. But at some point, the Indians are going to want to see what they have in Carrasco, one of four players acquired in last summer's Cliff Lee trade with the Phillies. This could be the time. Carrasco, 23, is 5-3 with a 4.29 ERA in 13 starts for the Clippers. He has struck out 65 and walked 27 in 79 2/3 innings. The other obvious option is left-hander Aaron Laffey, a starter turned reliever turned starter again. The Indians had employed Laffey in the bullpen at the outset of the season, but they sent him back to Columbus last month to get stretched out as a starter again. In the time since, he is 0-1 with a 3.98 ERA in four starts. He's struggled with his control, striking out nine and walking 15 in 20 1/3 innings. Both Carrasco and Laffey are in line to make Friday's start. Laffey allowed a run on five hits with seven walks and two strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against Pawtucket on Saturday, while Carrasco allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in five innings of a game suspended by rain on Sunday. Huff was 2-9 with a 6.04 ERA in 13 starts this season. His nine losses lead the American League. His most recent outing saw him roughed up for five runs on six hits with six walks and two strikeouts in five innings against the Pirates on Saturday. It hasn't all been bleak for the 25-year-old Huff this season. There was his complete-game gem against the Rangers on April 15, when he allowed just a pair of runs on four hits. But since that time, Huff has gone 1-8 with a 7.20 ERA, allowing 47 runs on 78 hits over 55 innings. "If you look at the last 11 starts, he hasn't been very good," manager Manny Acta said Sunday. "It's kind of mind-boggling because David has the stuff to pitch effectively up here. I really believe in his stuff."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.