Last year, the story was all about the Cubs breaking the curse, but if it wasn’t for an ill-timed rain delay throwing off the momentum, it could’ve very well been the Cleveland Indians celebrating the end of a lengthy World Series draught with a parade rather than the Cubs’ faithful.
Instead, we all know how it ended. The Indians blew a 3-1 series lead, coming up just short in what was nearly a fairytale postseason run. Now, they’ve got unfinished business and have made a couple significant upgrades to the team to put them in position to get back to the World Series. This is a balanced team; one that’s ready for a second chance in the Fall Classic.
2016 Record: 94-67
2016 Moneyline Record: +8.92 Units
2016 Over/Under Total Record: 80-70-11
Current World Series Odds: +820
Current Odds To Win AL: +395
Current Odds To Win AL Central: -400
Regular Season Win Total: 93.5
The Indians had a magical run to the World Series in an injury-riddled 2016. Cleveland gets a number of key players back for a repeat run in 2017—this time with what they hope to be a better ending.
Cleveland’s postseason push happened without Carlos Carrasco or Danny Salazar. It happened without Michael Brantley. The team only had Andrew Miller for the second half of the year. A full, healthy season of Carrasco, Salazar, Brantley and Miller all helps to make this team stronger.
While the team has lost Mike Napoli to free agency, they replaced him with an even better hitter in Edwin Encarnacion. Brantley’s return, of course, isn’t guaranteed, but he’s on track at the moment and was an MVP candidate prior to his injury. Those two alone help elevate a team that scored the second most runs in the American League last year.
On top of that, the Indians expect further growth in Francisco Lindor who really blossomed in the postseason. Of course, it’s reasonable to expect some regression from Carlos Santana, who had a career year, as well as from Tyler Naquin and Jose Ramirez, both of whom surprised a lot of people with how well they played last year. Even with that, this team is positioned to be better offensively in 2017 than in 2016.
On the mound, the Indians return Carrasco and Salazar to partner with Corey Kluber at the top of the rotation. The trio includes a Cy Young Award winner and the pitcher that before injuries last year was actually the favorite to start the All-Star Game. It also includes Carrasco with one of the better strikeout to walk ratios in baseball.
Another strong pitcher in that category is Josh Tomlin who hardly walks anybody. Save for an absolutely disastrous month of August, Tomlin was as good as anyone last year and he’s in the back of this rotation with a slew of other strong starting candidates like Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, Cody Anderson and Ryan Merritt.
In the first half of last season, Tomlin had a 9-2 record and 3.51 ERA. He went 0-5 with a 11.48 ERA in August, but then had a 1.69 ERA in five games in September before going on a nice postseason run.
So, we have a good rotation and a good lineup, but as strong as both of those components of the game are, the Indian’s biggest strength may actually be the bullpen.
Andrew Miller was the team’s MVP in the ALCS despite not being a starter or a closer. He won’t be used in the regular season like he was in the postseason, but he’s still a versatile pitcher that Terry Francona can use at the most crucial points of a game. He can also spell Cody Allen in the ninth inning. Francona essentially has two elite closers: one from the left side and one from the right.
In addition, the set-up options are abundant and strong, too. Boone Logan was brought in as an established left-handed specialist and joins the ranks with Bryan Shaw and Dan Otero. Otero had one of the best seasons nobody heard about last year, pitching to a 1.53 ERA in over 70 innings.
April 3-5: at Rangers
April 7-9: at Diamondbacks
April 11-13: vs. White Sox
April 14-16: vs. Tigers
April 17-20: at Twins
April 21-23: at White Sox
April 25-27: vs. Astros
April 28-30: vs. Mariners
The Indians and Rangers will meet to kick off the season in a ‘what might have been’ sort of matchup as both teams made the postseason a year ago, but the Rangers falling to the Blue Jays in the ALDS and thus missing a showdown with Cleveland.
Texas offers the team’s toughest test within the first few weeks as the team then goes to on a stretch where they play a number of teams not expected to make much noise this year. After Texas, the Tigers are the only real tough matchup before back-to-back home series to close out the first month against Houston and Seattle.
Cleveland’s offense was the team’s biggest surprise last year and that offense will have a tough time early against the Rangers with Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish on tap to kick things off.
View this years MLB game match-ups with the complete seasonal schedule for all MLB teams. Each year we will be updating the season schedule with the current information including final scores, so bookmark this page.
The 2017 Major League Baseball season is tentatively set to begin on April 2, 2017, and feature three games, including the 2016 World Series champions Chicago Cubs facing off against the St. Louis Cardinals, which will be ESPN's first Sunday Night Baseball game of the year.
The 88th MLB All-Star Game will be hosted by the Miami Marlins and will be played at Marlins Park on July 11, 2017. It will be televised nationally on Fox.
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