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A season Sou(we)rs

The Cleveland Indians activated pitcher Rafael Betancourt from the 15-day disabled list on Thursday and optioned pitcher Jeremy Sowers to Triple-A Columbus. Sowers isn’t expected to start for the Clippers before the 19th of July. The back and forth from the minors to the majors is a theme with him. He may be back sometime after the All Star break but fans have already soured on the pitcher and perhaps the team has too.

In 2006 as LHP Jeremy Sowers impressed in the minor leagues fans and analyst alike began to wonder when they’d see him in the Majors. There was a certain amount of hype and hope when it came to the 6th overall pick in 2004. In Single-A ball he struck out almost 10 batters per 9 innings. When he was called up in June of 06 he made some rookie mistakes but won 7 of his 14 starts and held opposing batters to a .259 batting average. He however has been inconsistent since then and as a career record of 12-22, with only 138 strikeouts. You can actually make a case that Sowers has been very consistent. In the minors there was a tendency that may have been foreshadowing. In Single-A he had a very impressive 9.5 batter strikeout ratio, but in AA that ratio dropped to 7.7 and fell once again in AAA to 4.8. In the majors it sits about 4.1 k’s through nine innings. His strikeouts and era, just like his success against the lineups all have the same downward trend.

Sowers this season own a 2-7 record with a 5.77 ERA in 11 games, 10 of which were starts. The inconsistent lefty last started on Tuesday in a loss to the White Sox. In that game he allowed four runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He’s give up nine runs in his last eleven innings. This is his second stint this season with the Tribe, after being recalled in May.

There were some rumblings to put Sowers in the bullpen and he did look sharp in his only appearance from the pen. The Tribe may have considered moving him to long relief because he has a .196 average against the first time through an opponent's lineup, a .244 average against the second time and a .558 average against the third time. As he went deeper in games the lefty who debuted in 2006 seemed to lose control of his fastball. All the more confusing was the Indians management failure to realize this and continually leaving him until almost all was lost. Even with a bullpen and a season that both have titanic written on their sides the team seems reluctant to give him a real run in the bullpen. Wedge and Shapiro appear to like him more as starter. Yes depth is valuable in the rotation especially left handed depth but given his history of downward trending it’s apparent that a new path needs to be considered. Cleveland may be better off giving his chance at a starting role to someone else and sweeten to the possibility of a decent left handed long man.