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Carrasco an option, but fifth starter undecided

CINCINNATI -- Carlos Carrasco has found a home in the Indians' bullpen as an effective long reliever, but the club has never entirely closed the door on the pitcher's potential future as a starter. Carrasco remains willing to do whatever Cleveland asks of him.

"We lost one guy in Justin Masterson," said Carrasco, referring to the July 30 trade that sent the Tribe's Opening Day starter to the Cardinals. "We've got other guys, but if they need me, I'm going to do my job."

Now, the Indians are short another starting pitcher.

Prior to Wednesday's game against the Reds, Indians manager Terry Francona announced that struggling right-hander Josh Tomlin has been removed from the rotation and placed in the bullpen. Tomlin lasted only 4 1/3 innings in Tuesday's 9-2 loss to Cincinnati before Carrasco entered in relief and gave the Tribe four frames.

The Indians need a starter for Sunday's road game against the Yankees and -- with off-days coming up on Monday and Aug. 14 -- Carrasco is a realistic option to take the ball. Francona would only go as far as saying that the right-hander was indeed on the list of possibilities.

"Once we got into that game [Tuesday] night," Francona said, "for multiple reasons, we wanted to stretch Carlos out as much as we could. One, it leaves doors open. The other one was it really kept our bullpen in check. That's something we need to talk about, and we will."

Francona said he would likely announce Sunday's probable starter on Thursday.

Carrasco, who logged 59 pitches on Tuesday, went 0-3 with a 6.95 ERA in four starts to open this season, prompting Cleveland to put him in the bullpen. Since the move, the righty has turned in a 2.30 ERA with a .217 opponents' average, 39 strikeouts and nine walks in 43 innings.

Tomlin -- sidelined for most of last season while returning from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow -- has gone 5-8 with a 4.75 ERA in 16 appearances for the Indians this season. Since his stellar one-hit shutout in Seattle on June 28, the right-hander has gone 0-3 wth a 7.09 ERA and a .967 opponents' OPS in five outings.

Last month, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti made it clear that the club still believes Carrasco has the makings of a solid starting pitcher.

"We'e been really pleased and encouraged by the progress Carlos has made in the bullpen," Antonetti said. "He's excelled in that role. We continue to think that, if there was an opportunity to start and we had a need, he potentially could go and succeed in that role."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.
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