It is a season of change for the Cleveland Indians. With the Francisco Lindor trade behind them, they can now focus on their club’s future while maintaining a sense of competitiveness. It may not be some of the familiar faces that the Cleveland faithful have grown to love during the Terry Francona era, but this is a group that can still find a way to win their fair share of games.
The strength of this Indians team is clearly the pitching staff. Anchored by 2020 Cy Young and Pitching Triple Crown winner Shane Bieber, it will be the job of the rotation to shut down opposing offenses and keep the team in the ball game. While Bieber is the main attraction, there is a great group of other pitchers on the roster. So great that designating them as supporting cast would be an insult. Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac, and the young lanky Triston McKenzie appear poised to take the next step and establish themselves in a similar manner that Bieber did not too long ago.
Yes, the pitching is great, but what about the offense? Well, good news, Jose Ramirez is still here. Ramirez has multiple top three AL MVP finishes and is clearly capable of carrying the offensive load. However, Ramirez will not be doing it alone, as he will get plenty of help from Franmil Reyes and Eddie Rosario. Reyes is firmly entrenched as the designated hitter, and for a good reason, considering the young power hitter can mash with the best of them. It would not be surprising to see Reyes be towards the top of the American League’s home-run leaders. With the addition of Rosario, they are taking one of the biggest pains in the necks from the Minnesota Twins and adding him to their roster. Rosario has enjoyed hitting at Progressive Field in the past. Cleveland is banking on him continuing that trend now that he will be more likely than not facing inferior pitching than previous Indians hurlers.
As far as the outlook in the American League Central goes, it will be an upward battle. The Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox are favorites, with Cleveland being picked for a third-place finish. With the additions that their division rivals have made and the trajectories they appear to be on, this is hardly surprising. The Indians are in a transition mode as far as their roster and the competitive window goes, so finishing behind Chicago and Minnesota is incredibly likely. Cleveland has a chance to make a run in the division and possibly the postseason, but a lot of things have to go right for them to do so. Stranger things have happened on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario, although the strangest of the strange may need to take place for the Tribe to make the postseason and a subsequent serious run.
Written by James Mastrucci