The Indians Offense is Searching for Hits, When Will it Come Around?
Normally, there wouldn't be any concern about the Cleveland Indians' offense after just eight games. But as we all know, there is very little about 2020 that can be considered normal.
In a 60 game season, when the Indians and Twins finish their series in Minnesota on Sunday, the Tribe will have played 1/6th of their schedule, equaling 27 games on the usual docket.
And that makes the offense a concern, and it puts Terry Francona in a tough spot.
Cleveland is second to last in the American League in runs scored per game, ahead of only the Texas Rangers, who sit at 2-4. The Indians are 5-3, because their pitching staff has been brilliant thus far.
Yes, Mike Clevinger didn't have a great outing last night, the first "poor" start of the campaign for the team, but the staff did hold Minnesota, who is second in the AL in runs per game, to just four tallies.
The Indians had plenty of opportunities to get back in the game, but didn't or maybe couldn't.
The average American League team is scoring 4.5 runs per game to date, and the Indians have passed that standard just twice in the eight games.
If you remove the nine run outburst against the Royals' bullpen game last Sunday, the Tribe hitters are producing a paltry 2.3 runs a contest.
Eventually, you have to think the pitching staff is going to have a hiccup. They've allowed four runs a game (less than the league average) twice, and lost both games. The way they have pitched, the Tribe should be undefeated, instead of 5-3.
The bottom of the order to date has been dreadful, and right now, Francona doesn't seem to have figured out the correct combination in the outfield.
Domingo Santana has been fine, mostly because he has drawn seven walks, leading to an on base percentage of .524. But Cleveland signed him for his pop, and he has one extra base hit.
In fact, Tribe outfielders (and we will include Franmil Reyes, if you want to call what he hit last night a double) have just three extra base hits. Santana has a double, Bradley Zimmer has a home run, and the Reyes double.
Zimmer is 4 for 15 thus far, the the summer camp sensation had one game where he went 2 for 4 with the HR, so the rest of the games, he is 2 for 11.
Reyes is 6 for 26 with 2 RBI, but hasn't hit the long ball yet. His lone extra base hit was a squibbler up the middle that eluded the shortstop and second baseman.
Jordan Luplow is hitless in 12 at bats, and Oscar Mercado is 2-for-22 with no walks and five strikeouts.
Mercado's at bat last night in Minnesota is what we worry about him, a lack of strike zone discipline. Randy Dobnak was trying to walk him, but Mercado didn't take ball four, he fouled them off until he waved at a pitch in the dirt.
Again, normally, there wouldn't be a concern for a few weeks, but this season is different.
Right now, we would use Zimmer in center, especially vs. RHP, with Santana in right, and why not take a look at Daniel Johnson in LF?
And we might give Christian Arroyo a few at bats, although it might be tough. After all, he hasn't had one to this point in the season.
Understand this also, Cleveland isn't going to get any offense from the catching spot with Roberto Perez out. The organization wants defense and game calling first from that position, and that's why Sandy Leon and Beau Taylor are there.
We understand Francisco Lindor hasn't got going either, and neither has Carlos Santana, but both of them look like Stan Musial compared to the bottom four in the order.
We would not use the word panic, but instead say concern about the Cleveland outfield. For now, Francona is searching for the hot bat, to help the Indians generate some runs.