Don't Let the Indians Offensive Woes Take Away from Their Historic Pitching Start to 2020

Mark Warmuth

The Cleveland Indians have played 11 baseball games. The league earned run average coming into play on Monday was 4.57, meaning the average American League team gives up about four and a half runs per game.

If the Tribe offense had done what the average AL team could do every game, Cleveland's record would be 11-0. 

That's right, the Indians' pitching staff has not allowed more than four runs in any game this season.

Quite frankly, that's remarkable.

Friday night, Mike Clevinger didn't have it. He allowed four runs to the Twins in the first two innings. After the game, fans were saying it was bound to happen, the great pitching couldn't continue.

Minnesota won the game 4-1, so again an average offensive night would have resulted in a win.

This is not another piece designed to bury the currently anemic Tribe hitting attack, but rather to praise the remarkable job the pitching staff has done.

Cleveland pitchers lead the league in ERA at 2.35, strikeouts (113), and least walks allowed (15). Yes, it does mean that Tribe pitchers are collectively walking less than two batters per game.

Imagine how good the staff would be if they could face the Tribe hitters?

We know that comes off as snarky, but the Minnesota staff leads the AL in hits per nine innings, in part because they held Indians' hitters to just two hits in back to back contests over the weekend.

The Tribe's hurlers have a strikeout to walk ratio of 7.53. The next best rate in the AL? 

That would be Baltimore and New York at 3.29, so the Indians' ratio is almost double the second best rate.

About the only negative thing you can save about the pitching is it has allowed the long ball at a league average rate, giving up 11 gopher balls. Minnesota scored all its runs by homers on Saturday against Carlos Carrasco, and last night, the Reds scored all three of their tallies on dingers.

The starters are getting the bulk of the credit, and rightly so. Shane Bieber has been unreal in his two starts, and Clevinger's second outing was the only one where the first pitcher on the hill for the Tribe didn't see the sixth inning.

However the bullpen, figured to be a weakness, has pitched admirably too. Only two of the eight members of the 'pen have allowed opponents to score earned runs (Brad Hand, Dominic Leone), while the other six guys have pitched 23-2/3 frames without allowing an earned run.

Two rookies, James Karinchak and Cam Hill, have already earned saves, each the first of their respective careers. And to date, the former has lived up to expectations by allowing just an unearned run (due to the new extra inning rule) and striking out eight in five innings.

That means in 10-1/3 big league innings, he has struck out 16 batters.

The whole staff specializes in the strikeout. Adam Cimber has just one in 3-2/3 innings, Adam Plutko fanned just four in six innings in his lone start, and Nick Wittgren has whiffed three in four frames.

Otherwise, every other man who has pitched for Cleveland this season has at least as many strikeouts as innings pitched.

What's scary is how long can this continue? When the offense starts to perk up, will the pitching staff show signs of being mortal? You would think both parts of the team will regress to the mean eventually.

That doesn't take away from the remarkable job by this staff. Appreciate what you are seeing. It's unbelievable.

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