Cleveland Indians Fantasy Report: Week Seven

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The Klubot is back to optimal performance. Can he keep it going?

Another week, another “I told ya so”. Corey Kluber is back to his old self, for at least was in week six, while Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley stayed hot. Can they keep up this performance in Week 7 or will we see an ending to an impossibly hot streak? Let’s take a look back before looking forward.

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Corey Kluber is back!

Or so it seems. Kluber was never pitching as bad as everything seemed. His BABIP was ridiculously high, his FIP to ERA difference was over 1, all while his velocity and K/9 rate were all in line with career norms. But a start against an NL team, and one he hadn’t faced before was exactly what Klubot needed. An 18 strikeout day while carrying a no-hitter into the 7th is just what those of us that were holding onto Kluber needed to up his value again. But is it a mirage of a start in a season that will see him come back down from his Cy Young performance? There is evidence that this will be an outlier start. Kluber was 4-1 with an ERA of 1.83 and a WHIP of 1.02 along with 40 strikeouts in 5 starts against NL opponents last year. I don’t expect, and nobody really should expect, 18 strikeouts every time out, but this start could be the beginning of another streak similar to last year. That being said, his value is higher now than at any point this season. If you own him in leagues, take offers, especially with a 2-start week this week. Pairing Kluber with another player could bring in a top 10 SP like David Price, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer…the possibilities are endless.

May 12, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis (22) hits an RBI double during the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

You can’t stop Jason Kipnis, you can only hope to contain him

There is no hitter that is as hot as Jason Kipnis right now. In the month of May, he’s hitting a ridiculous slash line of .517/.583/.833 for an OPS of 1.419

Kipnis is hitting up all 5 categories as well. He’s hitting for power (3 HRs in May), speed (3 steals), and average (.479 over 2 weeks). He’s doing it all, and it almost seems effortless, even expected. Like when he came up in the top of the ninth on Saturday in a tie game, you almost knew he was going to do something, and something he did when he clubbed the longest home run of his career.

Every week I tell you Kipnis’ value is at an all time high and to sell, but what could you possibly get for him right now that would equal the production you are getting from him currently? The best bet is to hold onto him for the time being and hope that when he eventually cools off, he isn’t lost completely. Maybe, you know, one hit per game rather than the two or three he is currently putting out.

May 16, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Brantley (23) hits a sacrifice fly and drives in a run during the fourth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Brantley is a battler

It’s amazing that Brantley is being overshadowed by Kipnis right now, because he is producing almost as good, and in some respects better than, The JK Kid. He’s slashing .348/.429/.565 with 4 home runs and 22 RBI already. The more impressive numbers appear once you look deeper. He has a 97.4% Z-Contact rate, meaning he is making contact on 97.4% of pitches thrown inside the strike zone, which is good for 2nd best in the majors (it should also be noted that Kipnis is 4th.) What does that mean for fantasy? Brantley has only struck out seven times this year. He’s putting bat on ball and getting on base, which is exactly what fantasy owners want to see from someone they spent a 2nd or 3rd round pick on. Hopefully, you can still buy in on Brantley, but with the average finally ticking up, his owners surely won’t sell.

Week 7 preview!

Seven games for the Cleveland Indians this week means that there will be two 2-start pitchers in Kluber and Trevor Bauer, and both are owned in most every league. Wednesday brings the return of Shawn Marcum to the starting rotation, but it could only be for one start, with T.J. House on a rehab assignment.

The Tribe will be in Chicago facing the White Sox for four games to start the week. They will be running out all left-handed pitchers against the Indians, one of the few teams with the lefties available to do so. It should be noted that the Tribe, as a team, have actually faired well against lefties this year.

It’s not a major difference, and it screams small sample size, but the idea that lefties kill the Tribe is greatly exaggerated. Look for lots of Ryan Raburn this week, with Brandon Moss getting at least one day off early in the week, as well as former stolen base champ Michael Bourn. Feel free to start Raburn this week in weekly leagues or DFS formats.

After the lefty fest in Chicago, the Indians come home to fight for the Ohio Cup against the Reds. All three of the games will be against right-handed starters. Mike Leake, Anthony DeSclafani and Johnny Cueto are the scheduled starters which prove to be formidable options for the Indians bats. DeSclafani has been up and down, with his last start against the San Francisco Giants being only 3 IP, giving up six runs.

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