Indians tab Tomlin for Wednesday start in Chicago

Indians tab Tomlin for Wednesday start in Chicago

MINNEAPOLIS -- Josh Tomlin has spent the past few weeks searching for answers. Maybe the Indians right-hander was throwing too many cutters. Maybe he was not pitching inside effectively enough with his fastball. Perhaps his mechanics were slightly off, throwing off his usual pinpoint command.

In reality, Tomlin feels the solution to his struggles is a simple one.

"If you want to look deep into anything, you can find some stuff that's going wrong," Tomlin said on Sunday morning. "More so than anything, I think it's just getting back to executing pitches when you need to execute a pitch, limiting damage, limiting the early balls, the hitter-advantage counts, and going out there and pitching to my strengths."

Tomlin will have an opportunity to do that again come Wednesday.

With righty Danny Salazar sidelined for an undetermined amount of time with a right forearm issue, Tomlin will slot back into the rotation for the third game in the upcoming four-game road series against the White Sox. Rookie Mike Clevinger, who assumed the fifth spot after Tomlin lost his grip on the job, will follow as the probable starter for Thursday's tilt in Chicago.

Tomlin played a large part in Cleveland's rise to the top of the American League Central in the first half of the season, but hit a wall after the All-Star break. Things went especially awry in August, when the righty posted an 0-5 record and an 11.48 ERA before being moved to the bullpen. In the days since, he has teamed with pitching coach Mickey Callaway in pursuit of answers.

"He did a lot of work on why he thought things were happening," said Indians manager Terry Francona, who felt the time off may have helped give Tomlin a mental break. "He and Mickey got together. So, I think it can't do anything but help."

Salazar was in the visitors' clubhouse on Sunday morning, but the righty was scheduled to fly back to Cleveland to undergo further tests on his ailing arm. Right now, Cleveland is unsure of the severity of the issue, but the team has announced that Salazar will miss at least one start. That puts the onus on Tomlin and Clevinger to step up at the back end of the starting staff.

Tomlin threw a bullpen session on Sunday and said he was looking forward to getting back on the mound.

"You definitely hate what happened to Danny, for sure," said Tomlin, who went 9-1 with a 3.21 ERA in his first 15 starts this season. "And you hope he gets back after only missing one start, because he can help us win some games. But my job is to take that spot right now and try to make the best of it, and do what I can do to help this team win.

"Hopefully, it was a good break and I can come back sharp and continue to do what I did early on to try to help this team win. We're trying to get into the postseason and go deep into the postseason. So, my job right now is to start and try to help us do that."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.