The Cleveland Indians have played 50 games this season, and it seems like they have been in a scrambling mode since the opener in Seattle.
Yes, there have been constants. The lineup has been buoyed all season long by their version of “The Big Three”: Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley, and Jose Ramirez. That trio are the only three players currently on the roster with OPS over 800, outside of Erik Gonzalez, who rarely plays.
The starting rotation is also been a constant as well, as Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Mike Clevinger have provided Terry Francona with a chance to win every night.
The rest of the team is in flux, with the bullpen issues being front and center. For the first six innings, the Indians look like one of the best teams in baseball. Unfortunately, they’ve allowed 43.7% of their opponents runs after the sixth inning.
That’s almost two runs per game!
No one has escaped the horribleness. Andrew Miller has been on the disabled list twice since the end of April, and when he has pitched, he’s walked 10 hitters in 14-1/3 innings.
Cody Allen struck out 92 batters in 67-1/3 frames in 2017, and for his career has fanned 11.5 hitters per nine innings. This year, that figure has dropped to 9.1, his lowest since his rookie year (2012).
The rest of the bullpen can’t put two consecutive good outings together for the most part. Just when you start feeling good about someone, they get hammered.
Zach McAllister has pitched well in May, and we thought maybe it was time to give him another look see. So did Francona, who brought him into a 7-5 game last night, only to see him give up a run in the 7th to close the gap.
Meanwhile, the front office is retreading the retreads. Oliver Drake is brought in, he is gone. Evan Marshall came up, gave up 3 hits and 3 walks in 2-2/3, was sent down, now he is back.
Neil Ramirez has allowed 7 hits, including two dingers in 2-2/3. Our guess is his next bad appearance will be his last.
And Josh Tomlin? My goodness, how can a pitcher who is allowing a home run every other inning he pitches still in the big leagues?
As for the everyday players, some decisions will have to be made soon, because the injured players will start to return.
What happens when Lonnie Chisenhall comes back? Does he platoon with Melky Cabrera in right?
And who goes when Bradley Zimmer returns? Perhaps it is Zimmer, who has fanned 39 times in 106 plate appearances.
Tyler Naquin deserves a spot on the roster the way he hit before being injured (.333 batting average, 820 OPS).
Can Rajai Davis keep his spot on the roster? A 527 OPS doesn’t really help the ballclub. And what about Brandon Guyer, who hasn’t been as effective against lefties as he was in 2016.
We could see a lot more Edwin Encarnacion at first base, especially vs. lefties, with Brantley moving to DH, so Cabrera can play LF.
Our guess is Zimmer will be the first one back, and Greg Allen will go back to AAA. That will mean Zimmer and Davis will platoon in center.
But when Chisenhall is ready, that will force a tough decision. It will be interesting to see what direction the front office goes in.
Within the next two to three weeks, the Indians roster could look totally different. And hopefully that means better.