Last season the Cleveland Indians made MLB history. In September, the Indians broke the American League record for consecutive wins, winning 22 straight games. The Indians had high hopes last season but were bounced early from the MLB Playoffs losing to the New York Yankees in the American League Divisional Series. They might have peaked too soon or they might have just ran into a good ballclub.
Cleveland finished the regular season with the best record in the American League of 102-60. The Indians acquired Joe Smith and then acquired Jay Bruce through waivers after the trade deadline. Indians ace Corey Kluber was named the American League Pitcher of the Month for June, August, and September. Kluber would earn also win the Cy Young Award for a second time, his last time being in 2014. The team also had 2 two-time AL Player of the Week winners between Kluber and Jose Ramirez.
Cleveland Indians 2018 Season Preview
The 2018 Indians will be looking a bit different because they will be without Santana for the first time since 2010, and will also be without Shaw for the first time since 2013.
Thankfully for Cleveland, they kept their dominant pitching rotation intact and most of their division foes are beginning the rebuilding process or already in said process. 2018 will show if Michael Brantley still has something left in the tank. There is still a question of who will be playing at second base this season. Jason Kipnis missed 72 games in 2017 with repetitive hamstring injuries and Ramirez moved to second base. Giovanny Urshela and Erik Gonzalez spent time playing third base while Kipnis was out.
The Indians will bring back one of the most dominant rotations in baseball in 2018. Three spots are secure in the rotation this season: Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer. The team still has two more spots to fill but four viable contenders. The possible candidates are Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin, Mike Clevinger, and Ryan Merritt.
Clevinger posted a record of 12-6 last season in 21 starts with an ERA of 3.11, striking out 137 batters, and throwing 121.2 innings.
Salazar made 19 starts, had a record of 5-6, an ERA of 4.28, struck out 145 batters, and pitched 103.0 innings. Salazar is currently dealing with right shoulder inflammation.
Tomlin has had to battle for a spot in the rotation the last couple of seasons and both times it seemed as if it worked. Tomlin in 2017 had a record of 10-9, an ERA of 4.98, made 26 starts, struck out 109 batters, logged 141.0 innings pitched.
Merritt made his second major league start in the American League Championship Series in 2016 against the Toronto Blue Jays becoming only the second pitcher to make only one start in the regular season before pitching in the postseason. The 6-foot lefty started four games in 2017, had a 2-0 record, 1.74 ERA, struck out 7 batters, and had 20.2 innings pitched.
What To Expect in 2018
Cleveland tried their best to fill the void of their major losses, mainly at first base. Alonso had a great 2017 campaign as home runs are concerned, only previously peaking at nine in 2012. He still draws walks but not nearly as many as Santana. He has a batting average of .268 in his career which is better than Santana’s .249 average. Expect Davis or Upton Jr. to replace Jackson’s spot in center field.
The team seems like they have the depth if Jason Kipnis or Michael Brantley are unhealthy, but have high hopes for them to perform at their best and healthy once again.
Nonetheless, you can expect nearly the same results as their 2017 regular season campaign and another playoff berth in 2018. Expect the Indians to play with more fire behind them and having a higher motivation because after seeing how far you can make it (2016 World Series) to being bounced out in the ALDS you just expect a team to become more hungry to get back to the Fall Classic. The Indians will still have a great pitching staff lead by Corey Kluber and having a fantastic trio that at one point last year made MLB history by having a trio of pitchers that had over 17 wins and 190 strikeouts.
Embed from Getty Images