Once healthy, the Cleveland Indians can still contend
The Cleveland Indians have been beaten and battered by injuries over the last couple months, but despite those bumps the team has still managed to remain within shouting distance of both the divisional race and the wild card spots. As more players begin returning from the injured list, and hopefully no one else is added, the Tribe will still be able to contend once healthy. Not just for a playoff spot, but deep into the postseason.
So far this season the list of players that have hit the injured list at one point or another is rather extensive for Cleveland. Unfortunately, most of them have overlapped as well. The Tribe survived April without anyone on the injured list, but come May they started piling up.
Since May 5 the following players have all landed on the injured list at one point or another: Roberto Perez, Franmil Reyes, Zach Plesac, Jordan Luplow, Shane Bieber, Austin Hedges, Aaron Civale, Josh Naylor. There’s also been players who have missed time without going on the list like Eddie Rosario and Jose Ramirez just recently.
Hedges, Perez and Reyes are back and Plesac is on his way, but that still leaves two of the team’s best starting pitchers to return this season. At the time that Perez was placed on the injured list, Cleveland was 15-13 on the season, meaning that we’ve witnessed the Cleveland Indians at full strength for just 28 games, at best, of the 81 played. Despite that, the team is still 42-39.
Now, getting back to full strength completely won’t happen. It would be shocking to see Naylor return. However, once Plesac, Bieber and Civale are back the Tribe will be rolling on all cylinders. In the absence of the starting pitching the offense has picked up steam a bit. If those three starters can return and bring the pitching back up to the level it was at the beginning of the season, this team is ready to make a strong playoff push.