The pride and joy of the Cleveland Indians is their rotation. As we draw closer to the playoffs, we take a look at where the rotation stands and how they could be used in the future.
When you think of dominant pitching, the Cleveland Indians rotation usually comes to mind if you’re a fan of the team. Coming into this season, the Tribe rotation was seen as potentially the best in baseball.
Well, things have changed mildly since then. Josh Tomlin is no longer a part of the Indians rotation and remains on the DL. Ryan Merritt was injured for much of the year and he was seen as the Indians utility pitcher to call up for double-headers. Danny Salazar is done for the year before even getting a start.
But where there are negatives, there’s also positives. Adam Plutko has proven to be a useful utility pitcher to use in situations where someone is hurt or for double-headers. On top of that all of these circumstances have led to the emergence of Shane Bieber.
So as we draw closer to the playoffs it’s beginning to become clear who will be the Indians three starters in the ALDS. Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco will most likely carry the load there. That can be scary for any opponent. But that also means Mike Clevinger will likely start the playoffs out of the bullpen. Let’s take a closer look at each starter and see where they all stand.
There is no doubt who the Indians ace is. Kluber has 15 wins on the year now and is still a machine on the mound. He hasn’t performed as well as he did in his Cy Young season, but that’s a tough thing to duplicate. Us pitcher-spoiled Indians fans will have to settle for his current 0.92 WHIP and 2.68 ERA with 160 strikeouts. Ho-hum.
Kluber will likely start Game One ALDS for the Cleveland Indians. The best thing Indians fans can hope for at that time is that he is healthy and doesn’t have any issues in the playoffs as he did last year.
Bauer was seen as the third starter coming into this season. After he started off cold in 2017, he finished up strong including an incredible outing in the playoffs. When Bauer continued red-hot into 2018 it was clear this was going to be a special season for him.
Not only has he led all MLB pitchers in WAR going into the All-Star break, but he has an incredible strikeout rate with a 0.43 HR/9 innings rate, the best in baseball. While he is currently on the DL and set to miss at least one start, he has 214 strikeouts with 12 wins this year.
Bauer has set himself as a Cy Young contender, and while he’ll have stiff competition, no one believes in Trevor Bauer more than Trevor Bauer.
Carrasco has had himself an interesting season. He was always seen as Cleveland’s ace-2 right behind Kluber. But Cookie has had his share of struggles this year. He does have 14 wins, but his ERA is 3.50 at the moment. That’s not to say it can’t improve.
He had two bad months in May and June, with ERA’s hovering around the 5.00 mark in both months. Since hitting the DL in June, he’s come back and turned things around. In July he won four games and had a 2.59 ERA, and in August he’s been even more impressive allowing just three runs in three starts.
Carrasco will likely see himself starting the third game in the playoffs, barring any bizarre moves by manager Terry Francona. But regardless, the Indians are happy to have him in their top three.
Mike Clevinger’s sophomore campaign has presented him with challenges, but not too much for him to overcome. He actually has a better ERA on the year than Carrasco, and it’s safe to say he’s improved on his rookie year.
The problem Clevinger faces is that he allows too many walks and one home run tends to cost him in most of his losses. July was a hard month for Sunshine. He had four consecutive losses and allowed multiple runs in every start.
When the playoffs roll around, Clevinger will likely find himself in the bullpen, but he could potentially come in as a starter if the Indians make a deeper run in the playoffs.
Bieber came into the league as the Indians wunderkind. By now, Indians fans know of his rapid ascent through the teams’ farm system. But now that he has become a mainstay on the roster, he’s become a fan-favorite.
Bieber has only pitched 12 games. But he’s proven versatile in the Indians rotation. He has a bad month in July but he was fantastic in June and has been solid in the month of August. There is no telling what his role will be when the playoffs come around. Odds are he makes the teams’ playoff roster and comes out of the bullpen. But his ability to throw strikes out of the bullpen could be a huge benefit for the Tribe in the playoffs.
This rotation looks to be in tact for the remainder of the year. Who nows how it will look in 2019 when Danny Salazar possibly returns. Don’t even get me started on Cody Anderson, or I should say the ghost of Cody Anderson. But for now, it looks like the rotation of domination is doing just fine.