Cleveland Indians: ‘Fingers crossed’ the mantra for 2019 outfield, bullpen

Cleveland Indians Cody Anderson (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Cleveland Indians Cody Anderson (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

“Fingers crossed” might as well be the theme of the 2019 Cleveland Indians, because the team is banking on getting lucky in the outfield and in the bullpen.

The Cleveland Indians will be favored to win the AL Central Division in 2019, but will be worse off than they were when swept by the Houston Astros in last season’s ALDS.

The Tribe pledged to pair back payroll, and mission accomplished. Andrew Miller, Michael Brantley and Cody Allen will all wear new uniforms next season. So will Lonnie Chisenhall, who by all appearances, the front office made no effort to keep.

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Edwin Encarnacion was also surprisingly moved in a trade made to cut costs.

What do the Indians have to show for it? Guys they hope will turn into solid big-league players. Jake Bauers, acquired in the Encarnacion-Yandy Diaz deal, will be one to watch at first base.

Outfielder Jordan Luplow is another name young player who will be given a shot.

Then, it’s hoping Greg Allen and Tyler Naquin take steps out of the fourth outfield shadow, while Bradley Zimmer tries to remind everyone he was an elite prospect.

In the bullpen, Terry Francona‘s going to have to throw stuff against the wall to see what sticks. Brad Hand will close, but how they get to him remains a mystery.

Adam Cimber has potential, although he struggles against good left-handed hitters.

Right now, the plans seriously seems to be banking on Cody Anderson and Dannly Salazar to return to form as members of the bullpen.

Anderson is finally ready to pitch after undergoing 2017 Tommy John surgery. It’s already been said by Terry Francona that Danny Salazar won’t be ready to throw when Spring Training starts.

So there you go. We know what they’re capable of. Getting on the field and doing it is another question.

So besides Hand, Francona will try to preserve leads and keep games close with Dan Otero, Tyler Olson, A.J. Cole, Jon Edwards, Nick Goody, Neil Ramirez, James Hoyt and maybe Nick Sandlin, a second-year pro who shot through the minors after being drafted last June.

Oliver Perez remains an option, but the 37-year-old, who posted a 1.73 ERA a season ago, may be a fit for the Red Sox.

Fortunately, the Indians still have the best starting rotation in the division with an offense that’s good enough to win with Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Carlos Santana comprising the heart of the order.

The Twins are better though, and so are the Royals. And don’t count out the White Sox, who may still make a splash in the Manny Machado or Bryce Harper sweepstakes.

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There’s a feeling of “fingers crossed” when looking at this roster heading into Opening Day. Not good when hoping to end a 71-year championship drought.