The dominant stories facing the 2019 Cleveland Indians are eerily similar to those they dealt with in 2016. How could the questions be answered this time?
In 2017, the Cleveland Indians roared on all cylinders to a 102-win season, decidedly earning home field advantage in the American League playoffs. Their 2018 campaign ended with another massive advantage in the AL Central standings, though that team admittedly never looked anywhere near as dangerous as the previous iteration.
The 2016 season was the last time the Indians faced any real regular-season adversity; they dealt with a maelstrom of injuries to key players, and it wasn’t until the Detroit Tigers began to falter down the stretch that the Tribe was able to pull away with the division.
Aside from the looming uphill climb to overtake the Twins atop the Central (as opposed to being in first place), the 2019 chapter of Cleveland’s quest for a championship is shaping up in many of the same ways as that fateful run three years ago.
Crippling injuries? Check. A division still up for grabs with an adversary that won’t go away? Check. At least a half-dozen unknowns that would cast doubt on the Tribe’s chances to win a World Series if they do get to October? Check.
We remember what happened then. We remember the multitudes of questions, and how they were answered. And we remember that it all almost worked out in the end. Here’s how the 2019 Indians mirror the 2016 club, and how many of those same questions could be answered this year.