After blowing a 3-1 World Series lead in 2016 and falling in Game 7, the Cleveland Indians came back with a 102 win 2017 and hopes of a World Series redemption story. Instead, the Tribe fell flat in the postseason against the Yankees in the division series.
Is the third time the charm for the Indians? Cleveland is the team with the longest, current World Series draught can they break. It would make a great story if they can win it all.
Bringing back Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis this offseason, it feels like the Tribe is trying to get the band back together in the last season of Chief Wahoo. It could also be the last season with Cody Allen and Andrew Miller anchoring the bullpen.
2017 Record: 102-60
2017 Moneyline Record: +6.95 Units
2017 Over/Under Total Record: 61-91-10
Current Odds To Win AL: +398
Current Odds To Win AL Central: -685
Regular Season Win Total: 94
The Indians path to 102 wins in 2017 wasn’t exactly linear. The Tribe were slow out of the gate, but improved as the season progressed, eventually winning 22 consecutive games in August and September.
At the time, the team looked unbeatable, but a couple rough outings by Corey Kluber in the postseason sent the team packing.
Kluber’s struggles were not expected. The ace won the AL Cy Young after going 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA and 0.869 WHIP in 203.2 regular season innings. He’ll be back to his normal self in 2018 and atop the Indians’ deep rotation.
Behind Kluber, Carlos Carrasco finished fourth in the AL Cy Young balloting last year going 18-6 with a 3.29 ERA and 1.095 WHIP in 200 innings over 32 starts. He’s as good a No.2 starter as you’ll find.
From there, there are plenty of quality options to finish out the rotation. Trevor Bauer had 17 wins and was 10-2 with a 3.01 ERA in the second half. He pitched 8.1 scoreless innings against the Yankees in the ALDS. Josh Tomlin was the hero of the 2016 postseason, has pinpoint control and had a 3.19 second half ERA.
There’s also Danny Salazar and Mike Clevinger. Clevinger’s overall numbers were the best of any Indian starter not named Kluber or Carrasco. He was 12-6 with a 3.11 ERA. He deserves to start while Salazar may have the best stuff of the lot.
While the rotation is deep, including Ryan Merritt as another option, the bullpen behind the starters is just as strong. The loss of Bryan Shaw is significant, but Allen and Miller are shutdown relievers. Dan Otero and Nick Goody each had sub-3 ERAs just like Zach McAllister.
While pitching wins championships, you need to have an offense, too, particularly in the American League. The Indians have that, too.
Cleveland finished 2017 scoring the third most runs in the American League while boasting a .788 OPS, the second highest in baseball behind the Houston Astros.
The Tribe lost Jay Bruce, Carlos Santana and Austin Jackson, but have brought back Mike Napoli and added Yonder Alonso to nail down first base. They have Michael Brantley, Bradley Zimmer and Lonnie Chisenhall in the outfield. In the dirt, an inspired Jason Kipnis should bounce back while Jose Ramirez was an MVP candidate and Francisco Lindor is one of the best players in baseball.
The team can score. Edwin Encarnacion is a difference maker in the heart of the lineup. He and Lindor both belted 30 homers. Ramirez was just shy with 29. Alonso hit 28.
The pitching is the headliner for this team and that says something for a squad amongst the best in baseball at scoring runs.
The Indians are balanced with no true holes. They have depth everywhere with Roberto Perez and Yan Gomes behind the plate and Francisco Mejia waiting in the minors. They have Yandy Diaz, Tyler Naquin, Abraham Almonte, Melvin Upton Jr. and others as depth.
Top prospects Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie help insulate a starting rotation that’s already seven deep.This is a good, deep team. They stand alone in the AL Central and should have plenty of chances to pad their record playing against the Tigers, White Sox and Royals—all rebuilding squads.
|Baltimore Orioles||Baltimore, Maryland||Oriole Park at Camden Yards|
|Boston Red Sox||Boston, Massachusetts||Fenway Park|
|New York Yankees||New York City, New York||Yankee Stadium|
|Tampa Bay Rays||St. Petersburg, Florida||Tropicana Field|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Toronto, Ontario||Rogers Centre|
|CENTRAL||Chicago White Sox||Chicago, Illinois||Guaranteed Rate Field|
|Cleveland Indians||Cleveland, Ohio||Progressive Field|
|Detroit Tigers||Detroit, Michigan||Comerica Park|
|Kansas City Royals||Kansas City, Missouri||Kauffman Stadium|
|Minnesota Twins||Minneapolis, Minnesota||Target Field|
|WEST||Houston Astros||Houston, Texas||Minute Maid Park|
|Los Angeles Angels||Anaheim, California||Angel Stadium|
|Oakland Athletics||Oakland, California||Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum|
|Seattle Mariners||Seattle, Washington||Safeco Field|
|Texas Rangers||Arlington, Texas||Globe Life Park in Arlington|
|EAST||Atlanta Braves||Atlanta, Georgia||SunTrust Park|
|Miami Marlins||Miami, Florida||Marlins Park|
|New York Mets||New York City, New York||Citi Field|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Citizens Bank Park|
|Washington Nationals||Washington, D.C.||Nationals Park|
|CENTRAL||Chicago Cubs||Chicago, Illinois||Wrigley Field|
|Cincinnati Reds||Cincinnati, Ohio||Great American Ball Park|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||Miller Park|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||PNC Park|
|St. Louis Cardinals||St. Louis, Missouri||Busch Stadium|
|WEST||Arizona Diamondbacks||Phoenix, Arizona||Chase Field|
|Colorado Rockies||Denver, Colorado||Coors Field|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Los Angeles, California||Dodger Stadium|
|San Diego Padres||San Diego, California||Petco Park|
|San Francisco Giants||San Francisco, California||AT&T Park|
March 29-April 1: at Seattle Mariners
April 2-4: at Los Angeles Angels
April 6-8: vs Kansas City Royals
April 9-12: vs Detroit Tigers
April 13-15: vs Toronto Blue Jays
April 17-18: at Minnesota Twins
April 20-23: at Baltimore Orioles
April 24-25: vs Chicago Cubs
April 26-29: vs Seattle Mariners
April 30-May 2: vs Texas Rangers
Heading into the 2018, there are a handful of elite teams on paper. The Indians are one of those teams, but they won’t face another one until April 24 when the Chicago Cubs come to town for a brief two game set. Before that, Cleveland will face the Mariners, Angels, Royals, Tigers, Blue Jays, Twins and Orioles. Some of those teams are likely Wild Card contenders, but none are favored—or expected—to win their respective division.
Cleveland also gets to spend six of their first 10 series at home. They start the year in Seattle and then head to Anaheim. The only other two road series bring Cleveland to Minnesota and Baltimore.Against the opponents the Tribe are slated to face prior to May, the Indians were a combined 63-26 last season, including going 6-0 against the Angels and 6-1 against both the Orioles and Rangers.
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