Cleveland Indians Look to Rely on Pitching in 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 11: Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians pitches in the first inning against the New York Yankees in game five of the American League Divisional Series at Progressive Field on October 11, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

It’s no secret that the Cleveland Indians have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. The Indians turned things around in Terry Francona‘s first season as the club’s manager through pitching. But just how good is the Indians pitching staff?

Cleveland Indians Look to Rely on Pitching in 2018

The Numbers

The Indians had a team ERA of 3.30, seven complete games, and three complete-game shutouts in 2017. What do all of these stats have in common? Cleveland led the American league in every one of them. The Indians also led the American League in fewest runs allowed, earned runs, walks, home runs, and had the most strikeouts. The Tribe also gave up the second-fewest hits in the American League.

The Rotation

The Indians have a true ace in returning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. Kluber went 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA and a team-high five shutouts. Carlos Carrasco finished in third place in AL Cy Young voting and would likely be the ace on virtually any other team. Carrasco went 18-6 with a 3.29 ERA in 32 starts during 2017.

The Indians arguably have the best 1-2 punch in all of baseball. Kluber and Carrasco finished first and third respectfully in AL Cy Young voting. The Indians also have a great number three starter in Trevor Bauer. Bauer went 17-9 with a 4.19 ERA in 31 starts. His 31 starts were second on the team behind Carrasco.

Josh Tomlin struggled some last year, but he should be a good enough number four if he gives up fewer home runs with runners on base. If Tomlin could make the jump to greatness, then it’s fair to say that the Indians have no weak spots in their starting rotation. Mike Clevinger will be a good fifth starter and possibly one of the best pitchers at the end of a rotation in all of baseball. Clevinger had a 12-6 record and recorded a 3.11 ERA last season. He also started 21 games and will look to be in the rotation full time in 2018.

The Bullpen

The Indians, along with their great starting rotation, also have one of the best bullpens in baseball. It all starts with arguably the best non-closer relief pitcher in all of baseball. Andrew Miller has been absolutely dominant during his time in Cleveland. In 83 games for the Tribe, Miller has given up just 16 runs. His 2017 ERA of 1.44 is the second best one for the Indians. Miller should be a very important piece in the bullpen once again. Cody Allen should be an effective closer once again for the Indians as he pitched to a 2.94 ERA and recorded 30 saves.

Tyler Olson pitched in 30 games, giving up 13 hits and had a 0.00 ERA. Olson could potentially fill the gap left by Bryan Shaw‘s departure. Another unsung hero for the Indians is Zach McAllister who pitched 62 innings and had a 2.61 ERA in 2017. Dan Otero appeared in 52 games with a 2.85 ERA. Nick Goody pitched in 56 games with a 2.80 ERA. The Indians have a very deep bullpen even without key pieces from 2017 like Shaw and Joe Smith. Shaw, for example, ate up innings for the Indians and replacing him will not be easy. (See who I think is up to the task of replacing himĀ here.)

Overall, the Indians had a team ERA of 3.30 in 2017. It will be tough to get better than that, but that’s exactly what the Indians will try to accomplish in 2018.

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