Baseball season has returned! After a slow offseason, game 1 of 162 is today. The Indians take on David Price and the Boston Red Sox to open the season at home for the first time since 2012. Corey Kluber will toe the rubber against Price.
Expectations around the Indians are relatively low compared to the 2015 campaign. Many predicted the Tribe would reach the World Series. The starting rotation is among the best in baseball. However, the offense leaves a lot to be desired. Offensive struggles are nothing new in Cleveland. The lack of consistent production has kept the team from reaching their potential over the past three seasons.
RP Corey Kluber
RP Carlos Carrasco
RP Danny Salazar
RP Cody Anderson
RP Josh Tomlin
This part of the team clearly is the strongest unit with a past Cy Young winner in Corey Kluber and two Cy Young sleeper candidates in Carrasco and Salazar. Fans should have endless confidence in these three guys. They have been consistent and proven themselves as guys who can carry a team. Now to the other two guys. Cody Anderson will look to build off a solid rookie season last year. He struggled at times and it seemed like teams started to figure him out. The offseason was advantageous for him as he took the time to change his body style. He weighs the same but reshaped himself and is leaner and stronger. In a shocking turn of events, Josh Tomlin won a spot in the rotation over Trevor Bauer who will start in the bullpen. Tomlin is a guy who has solid velocity but has little movement. He is known for giving up at least one home run per outing. Now to Trevor Bauer. This is a guy who has all the upside in the world but he just cannot put it together. He has great stuff and throws hard but his command is VERY sporadic. Management wants him to get that in check. They did a similar thing to Danny Salazar by sending him to Triple A and look how that worked out for Danny. Message has been sent to Mr. Bauer, hopefully he learns from it.
CF Rajai Davis
SS Francisco Lindor
LF Michael Brantley
DH Mike Napoli
2B Jason Kipnis
1B Carlos Santana
C Yan Gomes
RF Marlon Byrd
3B Juan Uribe
The Indians open the season without Michael Brantley. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list while he finishes up his rehab from offseason shoulder surgery. In the meantime, Kipnis wil likely get most of the at bats in the 3-hole and Colin Cowgill will get the third outfield slot. This lineup has a new look comparedto last season. Not one of the outfielders that was on the opening day ro
ster in 2015 is on it in 2016. New General Manager, MikeChernoff, had a busy offseason and made good use of the limited funds available. He trimmed some fat off the roster by ridding of the likes of Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, and Ryan Raburn. The additions of Juan Uribe, Marlon Byrd and Mike Napoli give Terry Francona good platoon options in some key positions. All three of these guys bring a bit of power with them that could potentially send the offense over the edge and lead them to a playoff appearance.
The bullpen is the biggest question mark of the team. Cody Allen is as good as any closer in the league. Zach “Fastball” McAllister essentially throws nothing but fastballs. Bryan Shaw not only spells his name incorrectly, he is inconsistent. He loses control and his pitches become flat which is not good. The rest of the bullpen is full of young guys that throw pretty hard. The Indians will be fine if starters can get to the seventh every night, which those guys can do.
First pitch is creeping upon us. The weather in Cleveland is beautiful, as usual. A wonderfully cold, rainy, snowy April mess. Great way to start the Indians run to the playoffs. I expect them to win 88 games and make it to the wild card game.
Writer’s note: Enjoy the beginning of baseball season. Follow me on twitter @BmSzabo for some great Indians insight and other MLB thoughts as the season progresses.