After losing both ends of a doubleheader last Sunday in Baltimore, and being shutout in both games, the Cleveland Indians reached rock bottom for the season. They dropped to 9-15 for the month of June at that point.
There was nowhere to go but up.
And up they went, winning the next five games and now they have a chance to win what looked to be a very difficult trip to Baltimore, Tampa, and Pittsburgh.
So, everything should be looking up in Tribetown and all the critics should be silenced, right?
From our point of view, not quite.
Why? Because of the consistency problem this team has, and has had all season long.
How many Indians have been consistent all year? After struggling in April, Jason Kipnis, Cody Allen have been excellent.
Michael Brantley’s power numbers are down from 2014, but he’s a guy who can be counted on to provide quality at bats every night.
Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco can be depended on to keep the Indians in ballgames on an everyday basis.
David Murphy and Ryan Raburn have solidified the DH spot with their platoon.
And since being called up, 3B Giovanny Urshela has been good on a day in, day out basis.
The rest of the roster? Not so much.
Carlos Santana is in the midst of a five-week long slump. SInce June 1st, the switch-hitter has gone 19 for 103 (.184), with 3 HR and 9 RBI in that span.
Over the last 28 days, Brandon Moss has hit .202 (18 for 89) with 4 HR and 12 RBIs. Over the last week, he’s gone 4 for 26.
MIchael Bourn has hit .185 with one extra base hit (last night’s double), three RBI and one stolen base over the last four weeks.
Mike Aviles has gone 4 for 26 over the last two weeks.
WIth Yan Gomes still struggling coming back from his knee injury, and Francisco Lindor going through the growing pains (at least at the plate) of being called up for the first time, this is why the offense has sputtered.
That’s five players in the batting order who have pretty much been terrible lately. That makes it very tough to put together any offense.
In the bullpen, Nick Hagadone has an ERA of 6.00 over the last month, but he’s really the only problem in that area.
Look, we understand that players aren’t robots, and they can’t all be the bastions of consistency like Brantley.
However, you can’t have so many players who are feast or famine either. That leads to months like the Indians had in April and June.
When Moss is swinging the bat well, and Santana is hitting too, the Tribe offense can look like a juggernaut. Unfortunately, that only happens in spurts.
And that’s why this is a frustrating team to watch.
Fans have clamored for a right-handed power bat, but recently, the Indians have handled southpaws.
What the Indians really need is another “professional hitter”, a guy who is going to give them quality at bats night after night.
The one thing to contemplate is what happens if Murphy and Raburn, particularly Murphy, who is hitting .327, but is a .276 career hitter, go into slumps.
Then it will be necessary for Santana or Moss to get hot over a month period.
Our point is that we shouldn’t be fooled by this five game winning streak. The Indians still need flaws they need to correct if they want to make a run at a post-season berth. They can’t afford another April or June, that will bury them.
Let’s hope the front office doesn’t become complacent about what has happened this week. That’s fools gold.