Spring training will be over in little more than two weeks, and the identity of the Indians’ fifth starter remains a mystery.

Blame manager Terry Francona for that. Or blame the competitors for the job: in alphabetical order Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Scott Kazmir and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

None of the four has come close to pitching himself out of contention. In fact, a case could be made for each starter being given the roster spot.

Francona has offered few hints as to which way he is leaning, if he’s leaning at all. The only clue that he might favor one pitcher over another is his continuous glowing praise for Kazmir, virtually from the first time he threw a ball in camp.

And Kazmir certainly seems like the front-runner, even if one disregards Francona’s tributes. He has pitched three times in exhibition games, allowing no runs, five hits and one walk in eight innings.

He also asked to pitch in a practice game against minor leaguers to work on his slider, which he did not think was up to speed, and threw equally well.

When it comes to consistency and readiness to pitch from the outset of the exhibition season, Kazmir has no peer among the contenders. His fastball has reliably remained in the 91-92 mph range, occasionally dipping or rising by one or two mph, and his command has been dependably precise.

This from a guy who spent much of the 2012 season pitching for an independent league team in Sugarland, Tex.