How Will the Indians Batting Order and Pitching Rotation Look on Opening Day in 2020?

Matt Loede

With spring training 2.0 closing in, the Indians are going to have a couple of weeks to tweak how they want their lineup as well as their rotation to look for opening day in the last week of July.

While for the most part the Tribe’s one through nine offensive lineup is pretty much set, what the batting order will be as well as who will get one of the three spots in the outfield are two things very much still up in the air.

MLB.com on Tuesday put out their predictions for the Indians one through nine lineup, as well as how the starting rotation will look.

Here’s the way they have the lineup playing out:

SS Francisco Lindor

CF Oscar Mercado

1B Carlos Santana

LF Franmil Reyes

3B Jose Ramirez

DH Domingo Santana

RF Tyler Naquin

2B Cesar Hernandez

C Roberto Perez

This version of the Indians lineup has Lindor, who might just be the best hitter on the team, getting plenty of at bats due to hitting leadoff.

Mercado proved last season that he’s not a flash in the pan, and he’s also got some speed that can help the lineup. Santana deserves to be in the top three of the lineup after an All-Star season in 2019.

The lineup has Reyes hitting fourth and playing left, while Ramirez will hit behind him and play third.

They start the year with new offseason pickup Domingo Santana being the DH hitting sixth, and Tyler Naquin making a return to the lineup hitting seventh.

New second basemen Cesar Hernandez hits eighth, while catcher Roberto Perez coming off a Gold Glove season at catcher will bat ninth.

Here is another version of the lineup that we think could be the direction the Tribe goes when the 2020 season kicks off:

1B Carlos Santana

SS Francisco Lindor

3B Jose Ramirez

DH Franmil Reyes

LF Jordan Luplow

CF Oscar Mercado

RF Tyler Naquin

2B Cesar Hernandez

C Roberto Perez

Having Santana lead off takes some of the pressure off Lindor, who still will get plenty of at bats hitting second. Ramirez also will see plenty of plate appearances hitting third, and he could have a big season after struggling at the start of 2019.

Reyes wants to play in the outfield, but honestly he’s still so much more suited as a DH at this point, and the team needs to ease him into playing the outfield.

Luplow is the wild card of the batting order, a player who last season was solid against lefties (14 of his 15 homers against lefties), but he’s been working hard to get better against right-handed pitchers, and deserves a shot.

Mercado behind him in the sixth spot makes sense, and then Naquin hopefully can stay healthy and be solid in the 7 hole.

Much like with MLB.com’s lineup, Hernandez should provide stability in the eight spot, and Perez in the nine hole makes sense.

Let’s take a look at what MLB.com has for the Indians starting rotation to start 2020:

Shane Bieber RHP

Mike Clevinger RHP

Carlos Carrasco RHP

Adam Plutko RHP

Zach Plesac RHP

Two moves that are of interest is having Bieber listed as the number one of the rotation instead of Clevinger, and while at the end of the day it’s not a huge deal, Clevinger is really the ace of the staff, and if healthy I would assume he’ll get the first start of the season.

Carrasco at the three makes sense, but then Plutko at four could turn some heads, as it means that Aaron Civale isn’t in the rotation to start the season.

Civale threw very well last season, and you have to wonder if they go with this rotation if the pitcher will be the first option out of the pen if a starter struggles.

Zach Plesac also threw well as a rookie last season, and it’s not a shock to see him in the rotation in this scenario.

Here’s the way I would have the Tribe’s starting five to start 2020:

Mike Clevinger RHP

Shane Bieber RHP

Carlos Carrasco RHP

Zach Plesac RHP

Aaron Civale RHP

Since he’s already done it successfully more than once, I don’t see having Plutko as the team’s long man in the pen being an issue. He has the experience and maturity to handle that role, and it’s an important one in a short season.

I have Clevinger as the number one just due to the fact if he’s healthy I don’t see how he’s not the best pitcher in the rotation. Last season he had a stretch where he didn’t lose a game from July 3 to September 14.

In that time he went 10-0 with three no-decisions, and raised his record from 2-2 to 11-2. He’s a potential Cy Young candidate if he can be 100 percent the whole season.

Bieber won 15 games last season, and should be in a good position as the team’s number two pitcher.

Carrasco is the wild card for the health issues from a year ago, but the Indians have been very vocal that the veteran pitcher wants to play and sitting out the season due to the pandemic is not an option for him.

Plesac and Civale at the fourth and fifth spots makes sense, as both pitchers proved last season the ability to handle tight spots as starters and they should be able to do it again in 2020.

Comments

Opinion

FEATURED
COMMUNITY