By Nick Broulis
In my last post, I talked about all the players the Cleveland Indians lost and some problems with the outfield. I know it may have sounded like I have no faith that this team can win.
Luckily, I also stated that I still have Cleveland winning the Central.
I will say that I’m worried about Minnesota as the Twins have some really talented players at multiple positions. But Minnesota still lacks high quality pitching on paper.
Next, if I was a betting man, which I’m not, I would have to say the White Sox would be next in line. I just don’t think they have the skill in the field that the Twins do and I think their pitching leaves a bit to be desired.
I have both Detroit and Kansas City near the bottom as both clubs are in a rebuild mode.
With all that said, I agree that the A.L. Central won’t be the toughest division in baseball, I think it has a chance to surprise some people.
A lot of people see this division and yes, on paper it looks weak but that’s on paper. I could even be wrong about the Royals and Tigers for this upcoming season. I could be wrong about the Tribe and Twins but that’s baseball. It’s extremely unpredictable and that’s one thing that separates baseball from other sports.
A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that the season is 162 games long and for people to have patience with this team. I’m mentioning that again because I really want people to think twice before they write this team off. I hear some people talk and they sound like Cleveland might as well not even have a season.
Now, getting back on track, here are some key factors for Cleveland to be playing in October in 2019.
1. Like every team, health is key. That includes Lindor not getting back in a hurry but when he does come back, to stay healthy enough to play all season long.
2. Cleveland will need players not named Jose Ramirez to step up. Jason Kipnis will need to get back to his form of 2016 and his early years.
3. I have a lot of faith in Cleveland’s starting pitching but they can’t be expected to pitch near perfect games all the time. The front office is putting a lot of early pressure on the entire pitching staff, bullpen included. The Indians will need both the starters and bullpen in mid-season form early.
4. Now that he’ll be getting more playing time, the Tribe is hoping that Roberto Perez can be the solid starter behind home plate.
5. Cody Allen is now gone and I, for one, am happy about that. I know he is the all-time saves leader but I was always nervous when Allen got the call. With Brad Hand, Adam Cimber and the rest of the bullpen, I feel like I’m getting a fresh start.
6. I already mentioned this but will Francisco Lindor return and be the great player that we’re so used too? It’s not good to miss all of spring training and I hope that doesn’t come back to haunt him.
7. Finally, if Cleveland is a clear contender come the end of July, will general manger Mike Chernoff make a move or two?
The Indians still have a really good pitching staff.
I think the big question is can Cleveland do enough to start out the season hitting the ground running. It’s a big unknown on where a lot of the run production will come from without Lindor.
Good pitching is great but you have to be able to score more than 3 or 4 more often than not if you want to win a lot.