Cleveland Indians need help versus right-handed pitching

Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Indians (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
Cleveland Indians (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Indians’ offense can’t hit right-handed pitching, and the best solution is adding a platoon bat or two that fits into their tight budget and doesn’t hurt the long-term future of the club.

This weekend I talked about how Amed Rosario could be a key piece for the Cleveland Indians. His ability to hit left-handed pitching should be a bit asset to the club. However, how he plays versus right-handed pitching could be an issue, and unfortunately for the Indians Rosario is not the only player that has struggled against righties. It’s a team issue, and perhaps the biggest one the club faces at this moment heading into the 2021 season.

Here’s a look at the Tribe’s projected lineup and how they’ve hit against right-handed pitching in the last three years (2018-2020):

  1. Andres Gimenez – 103 wRC+
  2. Jose Ramirez – 135
  3. Josh Naylor – 80
  4. Franmil Reyes – 107
  5. Jake Bauers – 93
  6. Amed Rosario – 79
  7. Roberto Perez – 70
  8. Bradley Zimmer – 56
  9. Oscar Mercado – 76

You have three hitters that are above average. THREE. One of those three, Gimenez, has less than 100 at-bats against right-handed pitching in his career. Mr. Out of Options Jake Bauers has somehow been the fourth best bat. Bauers couldn’t even crack the big league roster in 2020, that’s how bad the offense looks against right-handed pitching right now.

Compare that to their lineup against left-handed pitching which could have seven guys with average or better bats and you see where the problem is.

  1. Jordan Luplow – 163 wRC+
  2. Jose Ramirez – 131
  3. Josh Naylor – 100
  4. Franmil Reyes – 136
  5. Amed Rosario – 118
  6. Roberto Perez – 102
  7. Andres Gimenez – 109
  8. Oscar Mercado -80
  9. Jake Bauers – 71

Sure, someone like Josh Naylor could step up against righties, and I actually expect him to improve quite a bit, but that’s just one guy when the team needs help all over. Maybe Daniel Johnson or Nolan Jones eventually are up and hitting right-handed pitching at least. Maybe Luplow learns to hit righties. Maybe Zimmer or Mercado do…maybe maybe maybe.

Lineup analysis tools aren’t real world figures, but they can be a fun tool to look at for fans. This lineup above will be lucky to score four runs a game, which would have made it a bottom five lineup in baseball. The good news for the Indians is that that are several players available that can not only help improve the offense against right-handed pitching but shouldn’t cost enough to be prohibitive for the Tribe.

And yes, almost every single one of these guys should be a platoon player. That dirty little word: platoon. I’m here to tell you don’t be afraid of it, embrace it. The Tampa Bay Rays did and it helped lead them to the World Series this season. The Indians can’t afford stars, but they can afford guys that, when used right, can play like stars when paired with players the team already has in place, like a Rosario and Luplow.