As the Cleveland Indians gear up for the MLB postseason, roster imperfections haunt the Tribe yet again. Will this be the year they overcome?
No sport requires more luck than the baseball when it comes to winning the World Series. Nobody knows this better than the Cleveland Indians who’ve had imperfections heading into October the past two years, despite having a comfortable division lead heading into October.
It all started in 2016. Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar had the baseball world talking about the Indians boasting the best three starters in the big leagues. Carrasco got hurt on line drive back to the mound. Salazar hurt his shoulder and he hasn’t been the same since.
Just imagine if Carrasco could’ve pitched in place of Josh Tomlin during the Fall Classic. The Indians might be competing for their second World Series in three years.
The Tribe used an era altering decision in Terry Francona deploying Andrew Miller in the highest leverage of situations, rather than waiting to use him in the eighth or nine innings and that team some how, against the odds, made it to the World Series.
In 2017, the Indians were THE team to pick, coming off a 22-game winning streak as the hottest team in baseball. Lady Luck ditched the Tribe again by way of an injury to center fielder Bradley Zimmer.
The Indians decided it was best to move a struggling Jason Kipnis to center, while re-arranging the infield to start Jose Ramirez at second base and Gio Urshela at third base for defensive purposes. Urshela, committed two errors during a 7-4 Game 4 loss in New York.
Not only that, but the regular season had worn Corey Kluber down ( I guess). Although we’ve never gotten the real explanation as to what was wrong with Kluber, it’s been written about in the Cleveland media that his arm was tired.
Down an ace, with key positions in the outfield taped together, the most dominant AL team in the regular season wasn’t at its best in October.
And now it’s 2018…and here we go again.
Kluber’s supposed to be healthy, although he’s had some rocky starts down the stretch that have maid some wonder about his durability. He’s the ace who just notched his 20th win of the season. As goes Kluber, so go the Indians’ playoff chances.
The Kipnis-Ramirez switch was made again, this time for Josh Donaldson. Obviously, this beats the heck out sticking Urshela there for defensive purposes. In Donaldson, the Indians have a great defender and a power stick, but, and it’s a huge but…he must stay healthy and quickly resume his 2015 form. No problem, right?
The rotation won’t be ideal, either, with Trevor Bauer reportedly set to be in the bullpen during the ALDS. Mike Clevinger isn’t a shabby substitute, as the long-haired one has a 3.07 ERA–sixth in the AL.
Clevinger is young and inexperienced though, and while Clevinger (12-7, 202 strikeouts) is one of baseball’s best bargains, Bauer had the better season–and you want your best when it maters most.
Bauer could be a factor in the bullpen, as the Indians pray the bullpen finally bring it together. That means Andrew Miller stays healthy. Cody Allen keeps the ball in the ball park and Brad Hand doesn’t try to duplicate his September ERA of 4.00 in the postseason.
In recent vintage, the Indians were at their best with their backs against the wall during their 2016 run. They’ll enter the postseason as the underdog by virtue of their win total. Hopefully it galvizies this group, because while the Tribe’s window will remain open after this year, a lot of familiar faces will be departing at season’s end.