Indians may also be interested in Gallardo

The Indians have already been linked to the CubsMatt Garza. Now, they’re reportedly interested in Milwaukee‘s Yovani Gallardo.

At the moment, those two players are Cleveland’s “main and only pitchers of interest,” according to a CBSSports.com story by Jon Heyman. The Tribe is seeking a pitcher to “pair with ace [All-Star] Justin Masterson,” a source is quoted as saying in the report. The Indians want a starter with high-end stuff, and they might be content to leave their rotation untouched if a deal can’t be made for a top-of-the-rotation player.

This season, opposing clubs have devalued Gallardo, whose performance in 2013 has not reflected past success. Through 19 starts, the Brewers’ right-hander has assembled a 7-8 record and 4.85 ERA while averaging 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings. In each of the past four seasons, Gallardo kept his ERA under 4.00 and struck out at least nine hitters per nine innings, on average.

Gallardo, 27, has another year on his contract, plus an option year after that.

What’s true of Gallardo does not apply to Garza, who will be a free agent but remains open to signing on for more time in Chicago after this season ends. Over his last five outings, the 29-year-old righty has gone 4-0 and put together an impressive 0.97 ERA. Across his most recent 37 innings, Garza has issued eight walks and 34 strikeouts, while holding opponents to a .180 batting average.

According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, the Indians were one of five teams to scout Garza’s start on Monday, when he held the White Sox to five hits and two runs (one earned) over seven innings. In 10 starts this year, Garza is 5-1 and owns a 3.22 ERA.

Entering the 2013 campaign, Cleveland’s starting rotation was thought to be the club’s primary weakness. The starters have performed better than expected, though lately manager Terry Francona has gone to his bullpen earlier in games than he’d probably like to. Overall, Tribe starters are 30-34 with a 4.58 ERA. They’ve thrown 506 2/3 innings (12th in the American League) and racked up 453 strikeouts (fifth in the AL).

Even if the Indians don’t make a deal for a starter, they’ll still receive second-half reinforcements in the form of Zach McAllister, who hasn’t pitched since June 2 because of a right middle finger sprain.

– Mark Emery

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