The Cleveland Indians 2021 schedule was released, and with it the excitement of the return of baseball. Here we begin breaking down the schedule previewing April’s games.
This past week Major League Baseball announced its 2021 season schedule. Following last year’s modified schedule with only regional matchups, this provides hope for a more normalized regular season. To aide in that anticipation, let’s take a deeper dive into the schedule starting with the April slate of games.
Coming out of spring training, the Indians will feature a lot of new faces on its roster. For starters, there will be a new starting shortstop for the first time since 2015. Gone is Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco, Carlos Santana, Tyler Naquin, and Brad Hand. New faces, and perhaps new expectations will welcome this new team when they take the field for opening day.
The season for the Cleveland Indians begins April 1st at Comerica Field against the Detroit Tigers. While the opening the season in Detroit isn’t going to be flashy, the excitement comes in seeing Shane Bieber likely get the season started against one of the Tigers young pitching stars. The Tigers will hope this will be a litmus test against the AL Central’s top rotation, the Indians will view this opening series as a critical step to starting fast.
Following the opening series with the Tigers, the Indians will come to Cleveland for their home opener on April 5th against the Kansas City Royals. Following all Opening Week festivities, the season will be off and running like normal.
The Indians will need a fast start. In April they play 25 games (15.4% of the season) and will have 24% of their 2021 divisional games in April alone. Only two series will be non-AL Central matchups, therefore the Indians can give themselves a little bit of cushion if they start hotter than colder.
A strong April is something the Cleveland Indians are capable of. In 2019, they were 16-12 (.571) after April. They have been a recent model of April consistency when you evaluate that in 2018 they started 15-12 (.556), and in 2017 14-10 (.583).
In April the Indians will see every AL Central foe. No team more than the Chicago White Sox, who will face off against the Indians seven times. This will give Tribe fans a look at Tony La Russa, who will be leading a White Sox team that has sky high expectations in 2021. Facing Chicago early in the La Russa process, could prove valuable as Chicago will be in an adjustment process.
The two series that aren’t against divisional foes include a home series against the New York Yankees (April 22-25), and starting the battle for the Ohio Cup in Cincinnati (April 16-18).
The most challenging stretch of games in April comes April 20-28th. This stretch will be a no days off home stand against 3 playoff contending teams. The Indians will get their first look at the Yankees who booted them from the 2019 post season with a 2-0 sweep. It’s likely the four-game set against New York will give the Indians their first visual of Corey Kluber back in Progressive Field since he was traded over a year ago.
In addition to the return of Kluber, the home opener against Kansas City will welcome back Carlos Santana with his first trip to Progressive Field as a visitor. The other recent ex-Indian returning in a new uniform may include Greg Allen (Yankees) if he makes the Yankees big league club out of camp.
While the difficulty in the April schedule feels less than some of the other months, the amount of division games makes April critical to the Indians playoff chances. Pitching is the Indians strength, and they’ll need to come out of the gates hot when they face some of the AL’s premier offensive players.
Opponents who led the AL in 2020 offensives categories that will face the Indians will be Luke Voit (NYY-HR leader), Jose Abreu (CWS – WAR, Hits, RBI leader), Santana (KC-BB leader), Adalberto Mondesi (KC – SB leader), and DJ LeMahieu (NYY – Adjusted OPS leader).
For this writer, I am predicting a 16-9 April record (not bias at all). I am most looking forward to seeing the Indians face the new look White Sox. A team, that in 2019 the Indians dominated on their way to the playoffs, and in 2020 didn’t have the same success.
On the field, it will be important to see new Indians outfielder Eddie Rosario face his former team the Twins (April 26). Will he add the power and offensive production needed to consistently defeat them?
Overall, its a new season. A lot of new Indians will take the field and I’m mostly excited to see how this team gels as an offense, and the new bullpen rotations that will support a strong rotation.
What are you excited about most when the Cleveland Indians take the field?