Five "Fact or Fiction" on the Indians Nine Games into the 2020 Season
We are nine games into the 2020 shortened 60-game Cleveland Indians season, and already there are plenty of question marks to fill an entire pad of paper.
The Tribe’s pitching (outside of Friday’s start by Mike Cleveinger) has been nothing short of record-breaking.
The team has gotten two historical starts from Shane Bieber, and the rest of the staff, minus Clevinger’s one bad outing, has stepped up as well.
Today we will take a look at a little “Fact” or “Fiction” about this Indians team as well as maybe look at what else is going on in Major League Baseball.
Fact or Fiction: Shane Bieber is Going to Win the AL Cy Young
Sure, why not? He’s been the biggest story in baseball (at least on the field) for the first eight games of the season, going 2-0 with wins over the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins.
He had 14 K’s in his first outings against the Royals, and then Thursday in a 2-0 win he had 13 K’s.
Consider this: His 27 K's this season are tied with Karl Spooner in 1954 for the most in a player's first two appearances of the season since the mound was moved to 60'6" in 1893.
Bieber is just in another stratosphere right now, and with a short season he’s only got maybe another 8-10 starts left for a team playing just 60 games.
He will follow in a long line of recent Indians Cy Young award winners, C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Corey Kluber twice.
Fact or Fiction: The Indians Offense is Going to be an Issue All Season
It’s wayyyyyy too early to start thinking that this offense is never going to start getting in stride.
Sure the first nine games from an offensive standpoint have been tough to watch, and this team really has only had one breakout game, that being last Sunday against the Royals.
Terry Francona continues to harp that players like Francisco Lindor (.222) and Carlos Santana (.207) are eventually going to get going and hit, and the odds are in his favor.
The concern is that they need more than just 1-2 players to hit, and guys like Jordan Luplow (.000) and Domingo Santana (.188) have to start to hit to help out the top of the lineup.
Fact or Fiction: The Indians Will Not Play 60 Games in the Regular Season
It’s really hard to be positive about the overall direction that Major League Baseball is going in after what’s taken place over the last week, as it just looks like when the league takes a few steps forward, they take a mile back.
The situation started with the Miami Marlins, and it’s been a trickle down effect to a number of teams, as the league has been forced to cancel now 33 games as of early Sunday morning.
The Indians came close to making it 34 on Friday when they discussed as a team, with the Twins, and with Major League Baseball the chance of postponing their game against the Twins at Target Field.
This was due to the fact that the St.Louis Cardinals had come out with news of a couple players testing positive for covid-19, and they were the last team to inhibit the clubhouse at Target Field.
The Indians did wind up playing, but at the end of the day, this season just feels like it’s going to be a fight almost day in and day out to get teams to play their regularly scheduled games.
Fact or Fiction: The Indians will be a team with No Players Opting Out
Again the trickle down effect among Major League Baseball players has begun, as Saturday Milwaukee Brewers All-Star Lorenzo Cain announced he’s stepping away and opting out the remainder of the 2020 season.
Players have to put their families and their own health first, and with 51 games to go for the Indians you just have to believe at some point a player is going to make the very tough decision to opt out of the 2020 campaign.
There will be a number of factors involved, including where the Indians are in the standings and how many more teams have outbreaks as to if a player makes the decision to not continue playing.
The Indians as of now have had just one person, that being coach Brad Mills, not stay with the team, and his opt out happened early enough that the team was able to do what they could to make up for his absence.
Fact or Fiction: James Karinchak Will Be the Closer by the End of 2020
What has happened to Indians current “closer” Brad Hand? It’s a mystery that is hard to figure out, as last season in the first half Hand was flat out dominant, and now he’s having issues hitting over 91-92 on the radar gun, even though Francona claims the gun is off a “tick or two.”
With Hand struggling as we saw on Wednesday night at Progressive Field comes the possibility of putting in a new face to the closer role, that being young fireball pitcher James Karinchak.
Karinchak has been nothing short of impressive thus far, throwing four innings, allowing two walks, striking out five and recording a save.
It was probably a real stretch to think that Hand would be back in 2021 when he is due to make $10 million dollars, but it’s almost a given the Indians will buy out the deal for $1 million instead.
Look for Karinchak and Hand to split the closer role the rest of the 51 games of the regular season, unless one of them has major struggles Francona will likely go back and forth between the two for the back end of the pen.