Cleveland Indians: The Bats Must Wake Up This Season!

Apr 9, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The Diamondbacks defeated the Indians 3-2 to sweep the three game series. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The Diamondbacks defeated the Indians 3-2 to sweep the three game series. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Indians have struggled hitting early on this season. What must they do in order to get the bats going again?  Could they be pressing?

The bats have seemed to disappear for some of the Cleveland Indians. Relax, I know it’s just the beginning of the season, but the hitting has been slow to come around–even against mediocre pitching.

Although he is not a mediocre pitcher, last Saturday against the Detroit Tigers, former MVP Justin Verlander was shelled by the Indians’ lineup. They have always played Verlander well, but they really hit against him as the Tribe won the game 13-6.

Carlos Santana, Lonnie Chisenhall and Francisco Lindor all had three hits. The Athletic-CLE’s T.J. Zuppe broke down how much Verlander’s ERA skyrocketed.

Last Sunday, they faced Detroit left-hander Matt Boyd, who came into the game with an ERA of 5.40 per  The Indians were only able to score one run against him.

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Boyd’s stuff wasn’t overpowering, and it didn’t have a lot of movement, but the Tribe had no answer for him. He finished the game with an ERA of 3.77.

On Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins, (who have been a thorn in the Indians’ side the past few years), the Tribe erupted for 12 hits, and annihilated them 11-4. Santana, Lindor, Michael Brantley and Jose Ramirez all had two hits apiece.

However, the biggest plus of the game was Edwin Encarnacion’s home run. EE has started out atrociously for the Tribe, but he was able to get his second home run of the year against the Twins’ bullpen.

Also per baseball-reference, Encarnacion was batting .204 coming into the game, he’s now hitting .207.

The question now is, can the team keep this up in the next few games?  No, the Indians aren’t going to erupt for double-digit runs every time, but they need to at least get timely hitting, and hits with two outs.

In many games, Indians hitters are pressing. Players are being aggressive when they should be patient, and vice versa.  Instead of going after the first pitch fastball, they’re laying off of it, and only getting secondary stuff.

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The Indians are trying to go for it all on the secondary pitches, but are striking out. Again, this is for some hitters, not everybody.

One of the reasons the team was successful last season was due to their ability to jump on the fastball. This year, Cleveland is showing too much patience. They might be looking for their pitch, but if a pitcher throws one right down the middle, as a hitter, you must go after it.

The Indians have won their last four games with good pitching, especially the latter two, and the hitting has been better. For example, Santana had a three-hit game against the Twins on Thursday to end the series.

On Friday, the Indians struggled to score runs against the Chicago White Sox, but the domination of Corey Kluber, who achieved his fourth complete game shutout was enough.

Jason Kipnis also returned to the lineup.  Unfortunately, the defense and doubles of Yandy Diaz were sent back down to Triple-A Columbus in order to make room per’s Jordan Basain.

Diaz will play every day in AAA as he is given additional at-bats reps. Kipnis’ leadership and clutch hitting has been missed, and it will be welcomed back.

Some of the hitting woes can also be attributed to the cold temperatures. Baseballs go farther in warmer weather compared to freezing temperatures. The hard hits they’re getting would be home runs in June or July compared to April.

Yan Gomes, whose hitting an abysmal .162 so far, has been getting hard hits, and is seeing the ball better. Unfortunately, he can’t catch a break from opposing defenses. Gomes hit his first home run in a 10-4 loss to the White Sox on April 13th, but he’s still not hitting consistently.

There’s a reason the Indians tried to make a trade for Texas Rangers’ Jonathan Lucroy last season.

If Gomes continues to struggle later into the year, they might need to explore another trade for a catcher.  Unless, of course Cleveland believes catching prospect Francisco Meija of Double-A Akron is ready to contribute.

This a big year for Gomes, and he must maintain good health. Gomes must find some semblance of his self from a few years ago.

Next: Kipnis Is The Missing Piece On Offense

After the win against the White Sox, the Tribe are in sole possession of first place at 9-7. If the hitting becomes consistent in this lineup over the next few months, the Indians could take off and not look back on the journey back to their World Series.