The Cleveland Indians open the regular season less than a week from today, and they virtually finalized their roster over the past few days.
We are surprised by Terry Francona’s decision to keep just one left-hander in the bullpen, and even more surprised it was Ross Detwiler. However, Detwiler does have a 615 OPS against vs. left handed hitters, holding them to a .233 batting average.
Our guess is that because Detwiler is a former starter, 76 big league starts, including seven last year with Texas, Francona and Mickey Callaway feel he can be more than a guy who just faces one left-handed hitter.
We would be disappointed if the Indians keep 13 pitchers to start the year because they don’t need a fifth starter for much of April, and having nine relievers is a bit much.
We are also hoping there is nothing going on with Tito’s not naming Trevor Bauer to start the fourth game of the season against the White Sox.
Although Bauer is inconsistent, he is a better choice to be in the rotation from the get go than Josh Tomlin, who has struggled all spring.
Perhaps GM Mike Chernoff is working on a trade, because Cody Anderson has thrown very well in Arizona, giving Francona six solid options in the rotation. Anderson may have to begin the season in Columbus.
He would head up a very good rotation in AAA which would include T. J. House and camp sensation Mike Clevenger. A lot of major league teams would love any of that trio among its starting staff.
As for the ‘pen, Detwiler joins closer Cody Allen, set up men Bryan Shaw and Zack McAllister, and Joba Chamberlain, Jeff Manship, and either Bauer or Tomlin as relievers.
We would keep an eye on Manship, who has a 5.40 ERA in exhibition play, and outside of his 2015 season, has had a mediocre major league career.
In the outfield, Lonnie Chisenhall and Michael Brantley will begin the year on the disabled list, meaning the starting outfield from the end of last year, including the suspended Abraham Almonte, has had to be replaced.
The front office brought in a lot of outfielders during the winter, hoping someone would claim a job(s). Rajai Davis was a given to make the team when he signed, but the other spots were claimed by a Marlon Byrd, who signed during camp, and rookie Tyler Naquin, who flat out refused to be ignored.
Somehow, out of all the veteran scrubs brought in, the winner of the “competition” was Collin Cowgill, who will probably start opening day because of David Price pitching for Boston, despite his career .236 batting average and 633 OPS.
To be fair, he has come on strong in the last week, but is still hitting a robust .178 in Arizona.
He makes the team basically because he can play centerfield and either he or Davis can spell Naquin against a tough southpaw.
The infield is pretty well set.
Terry Francona will have to be very adaptable this season, and he has demonstrated he is very good at doing this.
He will mix and match his lineups, making sure to play the percentages based on platoon differences and giving some of his older players occasional days off.
Jose Ramirez will be a key in doing just that.
It will be interesting to see what moves will be made once Brantley and Chisenhall are ready to go.