Weekend Takeaways From the Indians Two of Three Wins Over the Royals
While we are all happy that baseball has returned, even in a shortened 60 game season, three games is still the definition of a small sample size.
That said, it is always better to win than lose, and winning a series is a good thing, and the Cleveland Indians did just that, taking two out of three against the Kansas City Royals.
The Tribe's starting rotation got superlative grades in the opening series, but you have to remember no one has the Royals even making the expanded playoffs, let alone the regular post-season, so it will be interesting to see how Cleveland does against the high potent offenses of the White Sox and Twins this week.
The Indians' pitching recorded 40 strikeouts in the series, the most in the AL, and walked just five KC batters, the least in the AL.
Of the teams coming up on the schedule, Chicago ranks 4th in the junior circuit in fanning, 29 times, while the Twins are in the lower half, with just 21 punchouts.
A majority of the strikeouts by Sox hitters came against the Minnesota bullpen, so we wonder how Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac, and Shane Bieber will fare against a group of mostly young, aggressive hitters for the Pale Hose.
So, we will use restraint on the pitching side of things for the Tribe. The Royals have some good hitters, but there was a lot of swing and miss on breaking stuff in the series, and will that continue against better hitters, or will they make the Indians' pitchers get into the strike zone more often.
We have heard consternation about Francisco Lindor's start to the season, but again, it's just three games. The star shortstop looks a tad anxious at the plate, especially on breaking balls, but we are confident he will make the adjustment and be fine.
Lindor struggled with runners in scoring position last season, and we feel he wants to succeed so bad that he doesn't put the pressure on the pitching staff.
On the other hand, the only Tribe starter who is still hitless has been patient at the dish, although that's hardly a shock. Carlos Santana is off to an 0 for 8 start, but has drawn four walks with just one strikeout.
The new leadoff hitter, Cesar Hernandez, looks impressive in person. The switch-hitter has drawn just one walk, but has made opposing pitchers work, and looks to hit the ball where it is pitched. His double down the left field line in the opener was a beautiful display of hitting.
And catcher Roberto Perez has shown way he received the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2019. He threw out two would be base stealers in the series, and blocked umpteen pitches in the dirt. He even went from first to third on a single to centerfield.
Terry Francona has got all of his position players in a game so far, and the only four on the roster who haven't been in are starters Civale and Plesac, and relievers Phil Maton and Adam Plutko.
The skipper likes to get everyone in as soon as possible, and he will likely get the bullpen guys an inning against Chicago.
By the way, the bullpen performed well in the first series, although in each game, no one was brought in during an inning. Everyone was used after the starters went at least six innings, and each started with a clean inning.
We know that will not always be the case.
We will have a better view of the 2020 edition of the Indians following these next two series, against the teams who figured to battle Cleveland for the AL Central lead.