Cleveland Indians: What Concerns You Early On This Season?

Apr 4, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco (59) is congratulated by shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) after leaving the game during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 4, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco (59) is congratulated by shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) after leaving the game during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Indians are off to a great start, but what concerns are felt early on as the 2017 season progresses?

The 2016 Cleveland Indians ended the season with a bad taste in the World Series, but in general had a very successful season. After an offseason of adding key players and recovering from injuries, big things are expected again from Cleveland.

The Indians are a favorite to represent the American League in the World Series again this year. To do that however, there are concerns and questions that must be addressed first. What specifically stands out? The FoS question is back as members of the FoS team gave their thoughts.

Joe Russo

At this early point in the season, there are two related concerns for the 2017 Indians. What will the long-term effects of Jason Kipnis‘ shoulder injury be and how will that impact the rest of the roster?

We’re seeing the immediate response now with Yandy Diaz starting at third and Jose Ramirez bumping over to second. But what about when Kipnis returns? Will Diaz stay in Cleveland or go to Columbus to play every day?

What if Kip isn’t himself when he returns? We’ve already seen one lost season for Kipnis before with his shoulder, so this isn’t a small thing. Luckily, there are internal fixes with both Diaz and potentially Erik Gonzalez. Neither of those players, though, have an all-star game in their resume.

Ric McElroy

There were a lot of players last year on this team that had either career years or as close to as one could achieve. Jose Ramirez was one of those players and there was the excellent pitching from Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller. With that in mind, will those players, especially Kluber, maintain last year’s form?

Also, for once Cleveland got off to a good start to the season. They didn’t go into an early tailspin and was forced to play catch up. The Indians played to win each series and that’s what gets division titles.

Cleveland got lucky last year too. They had to use some off their farm system to stock the majors when injuries occurred. The farm hands came through in style with players like pitcher Mike Clevenger really stepping up.

So, this season will once again take a team effort, along with a lot of luck to make it back to the World Series. We will see what happens, but if injuries strike, can the farm bolster their lineup again?

Nick Dudukovich

My guess is that injuries will be the top concern among Tribe Town, so I’ll try to narrow my focus to starting pitchers Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco. We all know that if the Indians are going to live up to being the type of team that many are predicting, the starting rotation will have a lot to do with it.

With that said, Salazar and Carrasco need to take the next big steps in their career. That means answering the bell and making at least 30 starts, in addition to producing at an all-star caliber level.

Salazar has never topped the 200-inning barrier in his career. The closest he’s come was in 2015, when according to, he logged 185 innings. Salazar was an all-star in 2016, but faded after the break, eventually going on the DL with elbow inflammation.

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We’re all counting on Salazar to be around this time through the stretch run and into the postseason. It will be interesting to see how the Tribe manages his arm in the early going. Salazar wasn’t great in his first start of their, going 5 2/3 innings, and while the Indians haven’t said so, I wonder if he’s on a strict pitch count, especially in the early going.

Surprisingly, Carrasco has never topped 185 innings in his career. Also per baseball-reference, Carrasco’s highest inning total came in 2015, when he threw 183 2/3 innings.

It’s easy to talk about Carrasco and Salazar being Cy Young award contenders, but until they prove than can last through an entire season, Tribe fans have nothing left but hope and the predictions of many MLB experts. Unfortunately, those two things don’t ensure a World Series championship.

Kris Grimes

My main and only concern for the Indians is their starting pitching. Now most people are probably thinking what? You’re worried about the starting pitching?

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Corey Kluber should be a Cy Young candidate. Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco have the potential to be great. Trevor Bauer is shaky, but even he has the talent to be good. Then there’s Josh Tomlin who is nothing short of solid, and rounds out a near perfect staff. So again, why would you worry about the starters?

Well, for beginners there’s injury. Salazar and Carrasco are coming off their first full seasons as starters, and both finished the 2017 season injured. Salazar made it back for the World Series, but he wasn’t himself.

He was merely there as insurance in the bullpen. Meanwhile Carrasco’s injury was more of a freak injury than anything, but still concerning when it involves a pitcher’s hand.

From there, how do the pitchers’ arms respond to having thrown so much in 2016? None of the Indians starting pitchers had much, if any major league postseason experience.

Guys like Kluber, Tomlin, and Bauer put a lot of miles on their arms for the first time in their careers. How will they respond as the 2017 season drags on? Then what about October should the Indians likely return to the playoffs?

If Cleveland succeeds in 2017, they’re going to need their starting pitching. They have a strong offense, but their dominant starting pitching is what separated them from the pack in 2016.

If they’re going to make it back to the World Series, they’re going to need more of the same. Cleveland needs Salazar and Carrasco to provide Kluber with a solid two, three punch, while Tomlin and Bauer hold down the back-end.

Ryan Rosko

Injuries are part of the game. One can never predict them, but Cleveland will handle them extremely well. That said, I am not concerned over that aspect of the game. Instead, what I do caution early on looking at the big picture is the outfield situation, especially right field, and part of the bullpen.

Brandon Guyer has a decent skill set, but overall he is not that talent and I do not like seeing how much the lineup includes his name. Lonnie Chisenhall and Abraham Almonte are decent players but in general, there is so much room to upgrade that position. I would be in favor of them being strictly spot starters or at worst play in a platoon role.

Instead, I would strongly prefer Yandy Diaz getting the lion’s share of playing time in right field once Jason Kipnis returns. Should Cleveland not use Diaz in the near future quite often (ideally as an everyday player), and RF struggles, they won’t have any excuse to continue to use RF the way it has been.

Cleveland has one of the best bullpens in all of MLB, but one relief pitcher provides so much frustration. That pitcher is Bryan Shaw. Can he overcome his inconsistent ways?

Next: How Much Will Lindor's Next Contract Cost?

If Shaw can, that is great! For some reason if his issues were to carry on in 2017, it will be hard for me to believe in manager Terry Francona‘s belief in him.