We’ve been looking at last season a lot lately, but the Cleveland Indians are looking to the future, so it’s time we do the same by looking at 2019.
While the current Cleveland Indians roster certainly isn’t set in stone, it’s starting to become clear as to who will be on this team in 2019. The team has made some acquisitions of young players, and they continue to develop quality home-grown talent.
So as we (impatiently) await the start of Spring Training, it’s fair to ask “just who will stick out of the pack this season?” Last year we saw Mike Clevinger have a career-year and a guy like Oliver Perez possibly turn his career around in the Tribe bullpen. Here are some candidates to stand out this season.
SP Shane Bieber
Shane Bieber answered the toll of the bell after Carlos Carrasco suffered an elbow injury that sidelined him for nearly a month. The call to the majors wasn’t a shock, as we saw Bieber move very quickly through the Indians farm system. Now he has a chance to earn a spot in the Tribe big league rotation.
It won’t be easy, the Indians are loaded at the position. Bieber will have to compete with the oft-injured Danny Salazar. Bieber’s strength lies in his ability to pound the strike zone. He had during his minor league stint in 2018 and 162 in 2017. It translated to 118 MLB strikeouts in 114.2 innings.
The problem Bieber faced was that he started to look like a one-trick pony and teams figured it out. He was taken deep for 13 homers, which averaged out to one per nine innings. It’s not horrible, but with a little work this offseason, Bieber could be a prime candidate to break out much as Mike Clevinger did.
1B/LF Jake Bauers
Jake Bauers is another young guy with less than a year of MLB experience under his belt. He was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Yandy Diaz. People in Tampa felt Bauers had the potential to be a stud for their club.
He doesn’t fit in his natural 1B position in Cleveland, as that spot will likely be filled by Carlos Santana, but the Indians need a left fielder. Bauers could fill that gaping hole for the Tribe. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Indians use him in left field during Spring Training to see how he fits in the position.
Bauers has potential with his bat. He needs to work on improving his strikeouts. If he’s going to swing for the fences as he does, more offensive production would be nice. He finished 2018 with just a .201 average and 11 home runs. But with some work, Bauers could find a permanent spot in LF for the Tribe.
RP Adam Cimber
Are you seeing a pattern? Adam Cimber is the third person on this list who saw action at the MLB level for the first time in 2018. He had a promising start in San Diego, but when he was traded to Cleveland something went wrong.
He struggled once he joined the Indians. It was odd to see August turn into such a disastrous month for the righty, but he managed to improve going into September dropping his 8.10 to 2.53. The improvement in the span of a month gives me optimism for Cimber heading into 2019.
The sidewinder will have plenty of chances in an Indians bullpen that is a barren wasteland. If he makes the most of them, he could find himself in the set-up role for Indians closer Brad Hand.