In 2016, the Cleveland Indians put together a solid regular season and an even more impressive postseason. Entering the playoffs as a complete underdog, they blew through the difficult Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays like they were nothing. However, those are not the same teams in 2017. A lot of teams bolstered their lineups this off-season. So, do the Indians have what it takes to return to the 2017 World Series?
How the Cleveland Indians Will Return to the 2017 World Series
With perhaps the biggest signing of the offseason, the Indians inked one of baseball’s most feared hitters, Edwin Encarnacion. Will that be enough to carry them through the season, though? The Red Sox just put up an argument for strongest rotation in all of baseball with the acquisition of Chris Sale. There is no denying that the Indians have a strong lineup, especially if everyone has a repeat season from last year. As with every Major League team, the Indians do have shortcomings in their lineup, as well. Even if Michael Brantley can come back healthy, the outfield will still be their weakest position group, outside of catcher. The lineup is not the reason the Indians might miss the playoffs though.
What are the Indians Missing?
Another season ending in heartbreak is nothing new to Cleveland sports fans, but the 2016 World Series was especially tough. After going up three games to one, many thought the Indians had the Series locked down; however, the Chicago Cubs managed to force Game 7 and won it all in extra innings. So, what happened? The Indians starting rotation happened. Corey Kluber has made himself one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, so there is no blame on him. The workload he was asked to bear would have gotten to any pitcher. It also cannot be forgotten that the Indians lost two key starters (Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar) right before the postseason.
The Indians bats were on fire throughout October and the pitching matched it well. But, when November came around, the Indians rotation returned to their usual regular season ways. The Indians need another starter to be able to put up a run like last year and hope to match the league-wide competition in front of them. Whether it is a last minute offseason move or a trade deadline acquisition, they need at least one starter. The bullpen was fantastic with the unbelievable performance from Andrew Miller and the flare from Cody Allen. If the Indians acquire one more decent starter to fill in for Josh Tomlin or Trevor Bauer, they have a chance to be just as strong, or stronger, than last year.