Cleveland Indians: Pitching keeping the Tribe afloat so far

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 11: Starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco
CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 11: Starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco /

The Cleveland Indians have suffered through an offensive drought to start the season. While it appears the bats are heating up, it’s been the pitching staff that’s carried the team so far.

Seems almost like business as usual with the starting rotation and the bullpen being the strength of the team, but the offense normally isn’t this far behind. The Cleveland Indians as a team, are batting .208/.281/.346 through their first 16 games of the season.

The batting average and on base percentage are lowest in the majors. The slugging percentage has seen a slight uptick and is only the fourth lowest team total. The only teams with a worse SLG than the Tribe are the Marlins, Reds, and Rays. All three of those teams are expected to finish in the bottom of their respective divisions.

But the offense will come around eventually. The Indians offense has gotten off to slow starts before and it will be the same case in 2018.

Meanwhile, even in the cold weather, the pitching staff has been able to dominate to start the season.

The Pitching Staff

The Indians pitching staff has a combined 2.75 ERA this season, which is third best in all of baseball. They’re the only team with two complete games from their starters this season, courtesy of Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco.

Opponents are hitting just .207 against Tribe pitchers, which is tied for the best mark in the league with the Boston Red Sox. They’ve allowed the lowest OBP of their opponents of any team. This staff is just absolutely dominant. Although that is not exactly breaking news.

Four of the five starting pitchers in the Cleveland Indians rotation have a sub-3.00 ERA. Mike Clevinger has a 2.70 ERA in his first three starts. Carlos Carrasco has a 2.60 ERA in his first four appearances while Trevor Bauer has a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings of work over three starts. Naturally, Corey Kluber is leading the rotation with a 1.52 ERA. Kluber has 33 strikeouts in 29.2 innings of work in 2018.

The bullpen meanwhile has had its own share of dominance from the usual suspects. Closer Cody Allen and Andrew Miller have yet to allow an earned run this season. Nick Goody has continued his success from last season and is posting a 1.35 ERA right now.

Until the offense picks it up, the pitching staff is the only thing keeping the Indians afloat right now. It’s way too early to stare at the standings each day, but this offense has been miserable so far and the starting pitchers are doing everything they can to keep the team within striking distance.

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Even when the offense does pick things up and get back to their usual production, the pitching staff will still be what carries this team. The team was built around a dominant pitching staff and that’s going to continue to be driving force behind the team’s push for another AL Central title.