Too Early For Panic, But Tribe Fans Can Be Concerned

It is not a secret that the Cleveland Indians haven’t played great baseball thus far this season.  They are sitting at 7-10 on the season, but right now the American League has nine of its 13 teams within three games of the .500 mark.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the entire season went that way, because there aren’t many bad teams in the junior circuit.  So, while the Tribe is struggling, only two teams (Oakland and Texas) have won more than 10 games already, s0 it is hardly time to panic.

We realize that Cleveland is a football town, and it has a football mentality.  Last year, there were many fans who wanted the Indians to trade for prospects when the team was five games out of a playoff spot in late July, when the trade deadline hit.

Of course, Terry Francona’s bunch played much better down the stretch and made the playoffs, winning 92 games.

We are saying once again that it is a long season.  The Indians have played a little more than one-tenth of their schedule, so there is no need to be going crazy about the Tribe’s play thus far.

None of the Indians’ key players have been hot thus far, and no matter what the team’s harshest critic has to say, it is doubtful that Nick Swisher will hit .174 this season, nor will Carlos Santana hit .153.  It’s probably amazing that Francona has Cleveland at 7-10 with the paltry production of these two important players.

However, we did say that the four key players for the Indians this season were Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, Swisher, and Michael Bourn.  Through 17 games, only Kluber has lived up to expectations.  Sure, he is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA, but those numbers are affected by his first start.  He’s had three pretty good starts since.

Salazar was cruising in his last start on Thursday, giving up one run in his first four innings.  The Indians got him a lead, and he suddenly couldn’t find the strike zone, walking the first two Tiger hitters, and then giving up a three run homer to Ian Kinsler.

That makes three consecutive outings where the youngster couldn’t get through six innings.

Bourn has been hurt, missing the first 13 games of the year with a hamstring issue, but he hasn’t shown any signs of changing his approach, striking out five times in his first 13 at bats.

The centerfielder hit .232 after the All Star Game last year, with an on base percentage of under .300, unacceptable for a leadoff hitter.  He needs to cut down on his swing and put the ball in play, using his legs more.  If he doesn’t start producing soon, his contract could become an albatross for the organization.

Outside of Kluber and Zack McAllister, the starting rotation has also been questionable.  Justin Masterson has been good twice, which is only half of his starts.  Carlos Carrasco has a big start this afternoon, mainly because Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer are breathing down his neck to take his spot in the rotation.

If Carrasco doesn’t do well today, he likely will be moved to the bullpen with one of those two being called up to make a start Friday.  We believe that’s why Jason Giambi reactivation was moved to Monday, so the front office can decide who gets sent down, a position player or a bullpen arm.

Let’s wait another 10 games, when the Tribe has played 1/6th of their schedule to make any rash comments.  The likelihood is that the American League will still look the same, a jumbled group of teams with similar records.

MW

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