The Cleveland Indians clinched their third-straight AL Central crown on Saturday in a 15-0 annihilation of the Detroit Tigers. Despite taking the division pretty early in September, it has been far from smooth sailing for the Tribe this season. Let’s look at some of the good and bad for the Cleveland Indians in 2018.
Cleveland Indians: The Bad
The Bullpen: In the early months of the season, the Indians might as well have used Columbus’ pen (AAA affiliate, Columbus Clippers) because of how terrible it was. In May, the Indians pen was 2-7 with an 8.01 ERA. Another thing the Indians had to deal with was Andrew Miller going on and off of the DL. Just when it seemed Miller was healthy, he would go back on the DL with another injury. Cody Allen was left by himself for a while in the back end of the bullpen, forcing him into numerous multi-inning save situations.
Injuries: The most recent and difficult injury to deal with has been Trevor Bauer’s right fibula stress fracture that may keep him out of the playoffs. Although Bauer is very optimistic, only time will truly tell if he will be able to return. Lonnie Chisenhall, like Andrew Miller, has been on and off of the DL this season with calf issues and missed a good portion of the season. Another outfielder, Tyler Naquin, will most likely miss the rest of the year with right hip surgery.
Bradley Zimmer: Zimmer’s play at the major league level was less than stellar. Zimmer struck out 38.6% of the time with the Indians this year and also battled his own injuries. He then went down to Triple-A for six games and struck out 39.3% of the time before needing season-ending shoulder surgery that will keep him out anywhere from 8-12 months.
Leonys Martin: Martin initially looked like a great pick up for the Cleveland Indians. He had only played six games for the Indians, but he clearly added a significant value to the lineup. Martin was hitting .333 and added two home runs in his short time with the club before being stricken with a potentially deadly bacterial infection. He has been ruled out of play for the rest of the season, as he should because his recovery is much bigger than baseball.
Cleveland Indians: The Good
Jose Ramirez: Jose Ramirez has had an incredible year and is in the MVP conversation. The third baseman has a WAR of 8.1 which is good for third in baseball behind just Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. Ramirez also joined the illustrious 30-30 club by hitting over 30 homers and stealing over 30 bags this season. He joins Joe Carter and Grady Sizemore as the third player to accomplish the feat in Indians history. The last player in the majors to accomplish this was Mike Trout back in 2012.
The Starting Rotation: The Indians have 4/5 of their starters in the top 25 in ERA and four of the top 12 in WAR, per Fangraphs. Corey Kluber may not be a Cy Young winner this year, but he is still one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. Mike Clevinger and Trevor Bauer have had excellent seasons while Carlos Carrasco (2.93 ERA and 112 strikeouts over last 15 starts) hit one rough patch and has been on a tear lately.
Josh Donaldson: The Indians gave up almost nothing for Donaldson and it looks like he will be himself for the Indians playoff run. Donaldson had a home run and a single in Friday’s game against the Tigers. He also tore up the minors while he was on a rehab assignment coming off his most recent injury.
Oliver Perez and Brad Hand: The Indians added Oliver Perez in the middle of the season when they were desperate for bullpen help. Perez is averaging 11.35 K/9 and has posted an ERA of 0.92. Brad Hand was acquired in a trade that included Francisco Mejia prior to the trade deadline. Hand has posted a 2.31 ERA and has saved 8 out of 9 opportunities. Hand is also under team control for the next three years with a team option for the third year.
Do not sleep on this Cleveland Indians team when the playoffs start. This starting rotation can go deep into any series and the offense has quietly been one of the most lethal in baseball.
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