CLEVELAND -- Derek Lowe has served as the most recent symbol of the Indians' rotation problems this season, but manager Manny Acta wanted to make something clear on Thursday afternoon: Cleveland's troubles on the hill extend beyond just Lowe.
"It's not just one guy. It's a team," Acta said. "We win and lose as a team. Our starting pitching has been inconsistent, for the most part. It'd be unfair just to point out one guy."
Heading into Thursday's game against the Tigers, Indians starters had combined for a 4.70 ERA and 229 walks, which ranked 11th and 14th, respectively, in the American League. Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez have gone through hot and cold spells, Lowe has labored through an extended slump and Josh Tomlin has struggled in spurts as well.
Through 98 games last year, the rotation had a 4.32 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). The WHIP has spiked to 1.46 this season due to an increase in walks.
As things stand, each starter from the Opening Day staff has a record below .500, and two (Jimenez and Masterson) are in the league's top five for most walks issued.
Lowe has been on a steady decline since late May, going 2-8 with a 7.59 ERA in his past 12 starts following an eight-outing run out of the gates in which he went 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA.
Acta was asked if Lowe's age (39) is becoming a factor as the season wears on.
"Well, we're humans," Acta said. "Obviously, the older we get, we're not as effective as we were at 27 or 28. He's got the stuff. He was  in the first two months of the season when he was carrying this team. It's about making some adjustments and probably being more consistent in the strike zone."
One pleasant surprise, though, has been rookie right-hander Zach McAllister, who headed into Thursday's start -- in which he was pitted against Detroit ace Justin Verlander -- with a 4-2 record and a 3.21 ERA.
"He's been a bright spot in our rotation," Acta said. "We're happy. This is a guy we look forward to seeing every five days. He continues to grow as a pitcher up here at this level. He's not a finished product by any means, but he attacks the zone."