This offseason, the AL Central has been one of the most active divisions, from the White Sox making serious moves towards contention, to the Indians working with a limited budget, or the Royals taking chances on a few comeback candidates, and the Twins continuing to invest in starting pitching. Out of all the teams in this crowded division, the Cleveland Indians stand out for a playoff spot. I know what your thinking; how on earth could the Indians have a chance to beat out the Tigers or White Sox, or even the reigning AL Champs? Sure, the Tigers’ offense features Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Yoenis Cespedes, and J.D. Martinez. The White Sox have Jose Abreu, the reigning AL Rookie of the Year, Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, and Melky Cabrera. But the Indians have something that these teams don’t have; Corey Kluber.

Yeah that’s right, Corey Kluber, the reining AL Cy Young winner for a Cleveland Indians team that finished only four games out the Wild Card spot. This offseason, the Indians have added a power bat in Brandon Moss from the Oakland Athletics. The Indians rotation added right-handed Gavin Floyd, who has come off surgery this past season. But as a whole, the rotation will have the likes of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Gavin Floyd, and a three-man dog fight for the fifth spot in T.J. House, Josh Tomlin, Danny Salazar, or Zach McAllister. The Indians, being eight starting pitchers deep going into 2015, is definitely beneficial in terms of depth to back up potential injuries down the stretch.

The biggest catalyst last year for the Indians was Michael “Dr. Smooth” Brantley. He had a monstrous season at the dish last year, having a slash line of .327/.385/.506 with 20 home runs, 97 RBI, 23 SB, 200 hits over a 156 games played. All those stats were career highs for Brantley, who led the Indians in all categories on offense besides home runs (Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis had more with 27 and 21 respectively). Michael Brantley could have the potential to have another great season at the plate as long as Nick Swisher, Jason Kipnis, Michael Bourn and Brandon Moss contribute as all four are coming off surgeries this past season or this current off-season.

Nick Swisher had dual knee surgeries in the offseason but is poised to come back with a stronger 2015 campaign, his 3rd year with the Indians. Swisher has reportedly lost 15 pounds and wants to become the man the Indians payed him to be. Jason Kipnis, on the other hand, needs a bounce back year after being hurt for most of the 2014 season and never got back to his potential that landed him on the All-Star team in 2013. Brandon Moss looks to be the power bat the Indians have been looking for, so chances are, if healthy, Moss could bring 25-30 homers this year for the Tribe. Michael Bourn, also coming into his 3rd season with the Indians, has not lived up to his contract, as he has come off another injury plagued season. But if all four of those guys stay healthy and the rotation lives up its potential; expect the Indians to compete again for the Central crown or Wild Card spot.

Projected Indians Lineup

1. Michael Bourn

2. Nick Swisher

3. Michael Brantley

4. Carlos Santana

5. Brandon Moss

6. Yan Gomes

7. Jason Kipnis

8. Lonnie Chisenhall

9. Jose Ramirez

Projected Indians Rotation

1. Corey Kluber

2. Carlos Carrasco

3. Trevor Bauer

4. Gavin Floyd

5. Danny Salazar (personally, I see Josh Tomlin taking the #5 role)

One Response

  1. DomLV

    Nice article, but a few things wrong with your line-up and rotation..
    Swish is not a 2 hitter even when healthy. Ramirez is our 2 hitter (he can hit for contact and sacrifice and run.. )Too much pressure for Santana to bat 4, he needs to focus on raising his batting average and not driving in runs (primary role of 4 hitter) That is why we picked up Moss.. Should be lineup
    1 Bourn
    2 Ramirez
    3 Brantley
    4 Moss
    5 Santana
    6 Gomes
    7 Kipnis
    8 Swish
    9 Chisenhall

    Keeping in mind those that are waiting in the wings, but that is for another reply..
    And the pitching rotation is close but a few changes..
    1 Kluber
    2 Carrasco
    3 Salazar or Bauer
    4 Salazar or Bauer
    5 Flyod – if he can even prove himself in spring training.. Keep in mind he is coming off surgery and should not just be given a sport because he was given a deal. Dont get me wrong, I hope he does! As you said the rotation options are deep. But in all honesty I don’t think the answer for the five spot is in the organization. (If Tomlin was the answer he would have been given more chances toward the end of last year.. but who was out there? Danny)
    And as far as Salazar goes he probably has more potential than any one on the staff! And with all due respect to the reigning Cy Young champ, some thought Salazar might make a run at the award after his strong showing at the end of the 2013 season.. EXPECT big things from him!
    Thanks for writing! go Tribe!

    Reply

Leave a Reply