The numbers say the Cleveland Indians should be going after a pitcher.
After all, the Tribe ranks 5th in the American League in runs scored, while the pitching staff’s ERA is 11th out of the 15 AL squads. Sounds simple, right?
However, we believe that GM Chris Antonetti should be looking for a starting pitcher and a bat to help the offense as well. Why? Because, even though Cleveland is in the top half of the league in scoring, most of the hitters in the lineup are inconsistent to say the least.
Outside of Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes, the Indians’ batters go through streaks of being either real hot or real cold.
That’s mirrors the team’s hitting, either they score 5 or 6 runs a night for a week or so, or they go through periods like last week when they get one hit in back-to-back contests. There is no consistency to the Cleveland attack.
Let’s take Jason Kipnis for example. Since the beginning of last season, here are his monthly batting averages: .200, .261, .419, .272, .250, .287, .234, and .255. So, in the last eight months, last year’s All-Star representative has two good months and one unreal one.
He’s supposed to be one of the Tribe’s best players.
How about Asdrubal Cabrera? His monthly breakdowns are as follows: .226, .278, .204, .221, .242, .220, .274, .243. That would equal two solid months and the balance being mediocre.
Carlos Santana is a key to the Tribe offense because he’s one of the few Tribe players capable of hitting 20 HR in a season. His last two seasons break out this way: .389, .200, .250, .294, .240, .271, .151, .169, .308. You get the picture.
We understand that not everyone can be steady as she goes, and we certainly know that Brantley and Gomes have periods where they go 1 for 14 and 2 for 19 too.
But that isn’t 1 for 44, like the streak David Murphy just ended.
When Kipnis, Cabrera, and Santana are all going well, the Indians’ offense is very productive, the problem is when you have those months where the three aren’t producing, it’s a tough team to watch.
And that’s why the runs scored statistic is misleading. Yes, Cleveland ranks high in the league in scoring, but they also are among the leaders in games in which they score less than three runs in a contest.
The inconsistency also extends to the starting pitching, where Corey Kluber and really, Trevor Bauer can be counted on the provide the same type of outings every time they take the hill.
Yes, Josh Tomlin threw a one-hitter against Seattle. In his other four starts his June 12th, the “Little Cowboy” has pitched 20-2/3 innings, allowing 18 runs.
Justin Masterson’s struggles are well-documented, as he has pitched less than five innings in four of his last seven starts. He really has had only one quality outing since May 3rd, that being a seven inning, one run performance against the Angels.
So perhaps Antonetti’s biggest challenge is to bring in some players who are steady, guys who Terry Francona can count on a nightly basis. Maybe it’s a solid .270 hitter, or a starter who can provide six or seven decent innings per start.
They may not have to be all-star type players. Just ones whose performance isn’t up and down like an elevator.
The times when the Tribe players are all hot are a joy to watch, but too often it is followed by a losing streak. That’s why they have sat around the .500 mark for most of this season.