CLEVELAND - As with most baseball seasons, the first month is more of a feel out process for most teams as they try to establish good habits, get some good trends going, and come out of April with a winning record.
For the Indians April is usually a month filled with bad weather and a number of times, a record sitting under .500. They most certainly have had the bad weather, but with two games left the team cannot end April with anything less than a 14-13 record.
There's been some very good things so far in 2018 (the starting pitching) and some not so good things (for the most part the offense). Today we take a quick look at some observations from the first (almost) month of 2018 and what could be next for the Tribe in May.
1. Solid Starting Pitching
When you have a two-time Cy Young award winner at the top of your rotation, it's bound to be solid for the most part, and through the first 25 games, not many can complain about what Indians starters have brought to the table to this point.
Yes Josh Tomlin has yet to win a game (more on that later), but Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco (forget about Saturday's game), Trevor Bauer, and Mike Clevinger have all been very very good.
The pitching has posted a 3.28 ERA in the first 25 games, the lowest ERA in the first month since the 1991 season. They've already recorded 210 strikeouts as well.
The starters have thrown at least six innings in 17 of 25 games, third most right now in the Majors. The five starters have gone a combined 12-7 entering Sunday's affair.
2. Inconsistent Offense
The O has relied so much on homeruns that through the first 25 games it seems like it's been about the only way they have been able to get Mario Coins to this point.
The team has scored 91 runs in 25 games (3.6 runs per game), and they have hit already 35 homers in 2018. Yonder Alonso has clubbed a team-high 8 homers (three in the last 3 games), and Jose Ramirez is second on the team with seven.
It's good to have guys that can go deep in a moments notice, but on the other hand this team has to find a way to come up with, as Terry Francona would put it, 'move the lineup' and move runners from base to base.
One would think as the weather FINALLY gets warmer and stays that way, the offense will get better, but it at times has been tough to watch.
3. Tomlin on the Bubble?
What does this team do if Josh Tomlin can't get it going? He's struggled to the point of going 0-3 with a 9.24 ERA, allowing 13 earned runs in 12.2 innings pitched.
Tuesday against the Cubs he allowed four homers (second time this year he's done that in a game), and overall in 3.2 innings allowed five runs on seven hits.
The issue with possibly putting Tomlin in the pen to get right isn't a terrible idea, but it would be a lot easier if Ryan Merritt and Danny Salazar were ready to go and be back in the rotation.
4. Brantley's Early Success
One player who appears to not have the issues hitting like the rest of the team has had is that of Michael Brantley, who entered play Sunday with a .354 average, 2 homers and 10 RBI.
As expected he's been eased back into the lineup, playing so far in 16 games, with 65 at bats with 23 hits. The biggest key as it's been the last few years with Brantley is health, but it's been so far so good for him as he's looked strong thus far in the first month of 2018.