Cleveland Indians: Time To Worry About Michael Brantley?

May 3, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Brantley (23) hits an RBI single during the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
May 3, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Brantley (23) hits an RBI single during the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Michael Brantley missed the last two Cleveland Indians’ game because of his sore right shoulder. It’s time for the Tribe to be worries…as well as other thoughts on the Tribe’s 16-15 start.

It’s officially time to worry about Michael Brantley. Terry Francona rested his left fielder for the final two games of the Houston series. Brantley’s right shoulder has to be bothering him. It’s easy to say  Brantley is struggling. He’s batting .231 entering May 12. What’s even more concerning, though, is Brantley has just two extra-base hits in 43 plate appearances.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Brantley go on the DL again if he he continues to experience soreness.  If that’s the case, the Indians will have to get creative again in the outfield. Tyler Naqin–shouldn’t get too comfortable in Columbus, because the Tribe may need his bat.

In his first stint with the Indians, Naquin wasn’t given a chance to bat against lefties–to the dismay of a lot of fans. Hopefully, if he returns, we’ll get a chance to see what he can do when he plays every day.

And regarding knocks that Naquin is “only a singles hitter.” On this team, give me a guy that can hit, period!

-I wonder how long the Tribe will go with Cody Anderson with Michael Clevinger in Triple-A waiting for his big-league shot.

Anderson has allowed eight home runs in 28 1/3 innings pitched. He’s slated to start Monday against the Reds, but was used out of necessity in the series finale against he Astros. In that 16-inning marathon, Anderson allowed a walk-off homer.

-Clevinger has better stuff than Anderson, and I’d be fine with the Indians promoting the 6-foot-4 right hander. He’s 5-0 for Columbus with a 3.03 ERA.

Anderson probably needs to be dynamite in his next start because the Tribe can’t afford his spot in the rotation to be a guaranteed loss. Remember last season, how the Indians really struggled with the fifth spot until Anderson pitched well?

The league made adjustments to Anderson, and Cody hasn’t adjusted back. He may still be a good pitcher, but he’ll need another pitch to supplement his fastball and changeup.

-Reports coming from Tribe scribes indicate the Indians really like the prospect of Jose Ramirez playing center field. Ramirez is slashing .304/.356/.430 with a .776 OPS in 85 plate appearances.

His consistency at the plate may lead to more playing time in the outfield–perhaps even in center. This will be something to watch as the Indians monitor Brantley’s shoulder.

-I wish the Tribe would trade Lonnie Chisenhall, but I don’t see it because of the uncertainty in the outfield. The front office could get something for Chisenhall because he is a great defender. What he’s not though, is a good hitter–and I’ve seen enough. He’s slashing .255/.296/.333 with a .630 OPS.

The Indians probably don’t want to give up on Lonnie too early in the chance he finally figures out how to be a viable big-league hitter. It took Alex Gordon–a first round pick with the Royals–a long time to finally figure it out, and it would be a huge blow to the Tribe to have invested all this time into their 2008 first-round pick to see him breakout with another club.

Chisenhall is 27. Gordon finally showed he could hit in his age 27 season when he batted .303 in 2011. He didn’t make his first All-Star team until he was 29 in 2013.

With that said, it’d be more of a surprise to see Chisenhall even become a minor star. He can be an everyday starting outfielder based on what we’ve seen defensively, but he can’t hit lefties (has just 4 at-bats against southpaws in 2016). Seems like he’s more destined to be a career platoon player.

More from Factory of Sadness

Five other things I think:

1. Cody Allen scares the Be-jezus out of me in non-save situations.

2. The next two series are big for the Tribe as the woeful Twins and Reds clubs lay in wait. The Tribe better go 5-2. The Twins have lost seven straight. The way the Reds are going,  Cincinnati fans EXPECT their bullpen to blow a 10-run lead.

3. If this team is going to contend, they need to win the “white-knuckers.” The Tribe is now 5-7 in one-run games and 0-3 in extra innings.

4. The series finale against the Astros was as quirky as they come. Indians pitchers allowed 12 walks in the 16-inning marathon. Incredibly, not one of those walks hurt the Tribe. The Indians drew just one walk (Carlos Santana).

Next: There's Something Wrong With Corey Kluber

5. The White Sox finally lost back-to-back games and maintain a 5.0 game lead on the Tribe. The Indians can catch the sox, but the starting pitching has to be more consistent. Corey Kluber doesn’t need to a Cy Young-esque outing every time, but he can’t be as bad as we was against Houston on Monday (2 2/3 innings, 5 ER).