MINNEAPOLIS -- The Indians might be on the verge of shuffling their rotation, but the ballclub is not going to make any drastic changes just yet. There is the matter of dealing with Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline first.
Cleveland continues to search for possibilities on the trade front, and the team is reportedly one of four aggressive suitors for Rays right-hander James Shields. Even if the Tribe is unable to pull off a trade for pitching, the club seems poised to make changes soon.
"I thought we were going to be better," Indians manager Manny Acta said prior to Saturday's game against the Twins. "But we have 62 games to go still. Things can change. Guys get better. Guys making adjustments. Teams make trades."
Right now, Cleveland has a pair of struggling starters in veteran Derek Lowe and right-hander Josh Tomlin. Lowe (8-9, 5.09 ERA) has gone 2-8 with a 7.59 ERA over his past 12 outings and Tomlin (5-8, 5.87 ERA) has gone 2-5 with a 7.02 ERA across his last eight trips up the hill. Lowe and Tomlin are tentatively scheduled to make their next starts on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
Of course, nothing is set in stone.
Heading into Saturday's action, the Indians' rotation was 36-43 with a 4.77 ERA through the team's first 100 games this season. The group had compiled 377 strikeouts against 231 walks over 590 2/3 innings. Last year, Cleveland's starting staff was 36-37 with a 4.24 ERA through 100 games, with 388 strikeouts and 167 walks in 604 2/3 innings.
"I was envisioning our rotation to be better than what it is," Acta said. "I'm not going to lie to you. I was expecting certain guys to pitch the way they pitched last year, or better. My expectation has always been to win. if you're expecting to win, you can't be expecting to be in the bottom five in pitching."
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Shields' top suitors at this point include the Braves, Dodgers, Rangers and Indians. The Cardinals and Angels have also reportedly expressed interest in the pitcher, who has notched at least 200 innings in each of the past five seasons. Over that span, Shields went 66-55 with a 3.86 ERA. He is 8-7 with a 4.52 ERA this year for the Rays.
Acta said he has been discussing the situation with general manager Chris Antonetti.
"We've talked," Acta said. "But we have to sit back and wait until the Trade Deadline goes by, and we have a day off [on Monday]. We have plenty of time. It'd be foolish for us to be announcing anything or try to make any type of moves before the trading deadline. We have to wait and see."