The Cleveland Indians Opening Day lineup for the 2021 campaign has a few familiar faces, as some names hope to raise the Tribe up to its first AL Central title since 2018.
The Indians open the season on the road against the Detroit Tigers and left-hander Matthew Boyd. The Indians will adjust their lineup, since Detroit will be sending a southpaw to the bump.
We know who’s going to be in the lineup, although there’s still uncertainty surrounding Terry Francona’s batting order. Here’s our projected lineup, which will be updated accordingly.
1. Jordan Luplow, CF: Tito announced Luplow would get the start in center after primarily being a corner player over the course of his Tribe career. The Indians are hoping he can hit lefties like he did in 2019, when he posted an OPS above 1.000.
2. Cesar Hernandez, 2B: The switch-hitting, Gold Glover will be one of the most consistent bats in the lineup all season long.
3. Jose Ramirez, 3B: J-Ram had a lousy spring, but three top-3 finishes in the AL MVP voting over the past three seasons afford the veteran a pass.
4. Eddie Rosario, LF: Like Ramirez, Rosario didn’t exactly blow anyone away. That said, he has a track record of success blasting bombs at big-league parks. Time to flip the switch, because runs are going to come at a premium for this lineup.
5. Franmil Reyes, DH: Reyes hit a combined 37 bombs between the Padres and the Indians in 2019. The pandemic-ridden 2020 campaign didn’t let us see if Reyes could top the 40-mark. He’ll need to hit that many for this lineup to compete.
6. Josh Naylor, RF: The former Padre had a tough spring where it seemed like he went three weeks without a hit. At the big-league level, the left-hander hits southpaws about as well as he hits righties.
7. Yu Chang, 1B: Saw a lot of Tribe Twitter fans blasting the Indians for holding a first base competition, only to start a guy that didn’t compete in the contest. It’s classic Tribe, but at least Chang gets to play. He certainly packs a punch, now the Tribe needs to find him at bats. They’re doing it here.
8. Roberto Perez: The hope for Perez at the plate is that he can run into some pitches. He hit 24 homers in 2019, however, he hit just one in 110 plate appearances while battling injuries last season. He hit two homers in 34 spring plate appearances, a positive sign for the backstop.
9. Andres Gimenez, SS: Look for Francisco Lindor’s replacement to hit toward the bottom of the lineup–at least in the early going. The Indians front office know April can be brutal for hitters in the north shore, and hitting here takes the pressure off the 22-year-old. In spring training, Gimenez hit leadoff, second, seventh and ninth.
SP: Shane Bieber will make his second consecutive Opening Day, as the 25-year-old reigning Cy Young Award carries the weight of the rotation on his shoulder.