The Cleveland Indians continue to be a very difficult team to watch.
We know they won the second most games in the American League a year ago and advanced to the World Series for the first time since 1997.
Yes, they lost Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis in the off-season, but they signed the top slugger on the market in Edwin Encarnacion to replace the former. By the way, both Napoli and Davis are suffering through terrible seasons.
They have the second best ERA in the American League despite a starting rotation that has suffered through an injury to Danny Salazar, and wild inconsistency from Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer.
However, they sit with a 48-44 record through 92 games. It’s not early anymore, the Indians have played more than half of their schedule.
They looked to be turning the corner in the middle of June when they took seven of eight on a trip to Minnesota and Baltimore, and after a brief hiccup against the Twins at Progressive Field, went 8-5 before taking time off for the All Star Game.
The offense still hasn’t returned from the break.
The Tribe was swept in Oakland without scoring more than three runs in a game, and after a 5-3 win in San Francisco on Monday, they lost to the Giants 2-1 in 10 innings.
We understand Terry Francona’s crew is missing Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall due to injuries, but Kipnis wasn’t hitting before he was hurt.
The schedule for August features games against the Red Sox, Yankees, Rockies, Rays, Twins and Royals. What do all those teams have in common? They are very much in the thick of the post-season race.
It is clearly time for the Cleveland Indians to put up or shut up.
Yes, we know the apologists for the team will point out they remain in first place, currently a game and a half ahead of the Twins.
But really, does anyone think this team is playing up to its potential?
Last night’s ninth inning illustrates one of the problems the hitters have had this season.
After a lead off walk to Encarnacion, two of the next three hitters, Jose Ramirez and Yan Gomes, swung at the first pitch they saw. Ramirez did it immediately after the free pass.
Gomes swings at the first pitch in clutch situations on a consistent basis. You are helping out the pitcher in that situation by doing this.
With all the struggles, Francona continues to use basically the same batting order. In the hot streak we talked about earlier, Ramirez was hitting third, but Tito doesn’t want to move him out of the #5 hole.
This could be another case of the skipper being more stubborn than patient.
We have written about this before, but moving Michael Brantley and his .361 on base percentage to the leadoff spot, especially he has just 23 extra base hits for the season.
The only regular with less is Gomes, whose offensive struggles are well documented.
Should Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff be looking for another bat?
Cody Allen should also be under a little scrutiny. After recording a 0.90 ERA in April in 10 innings, he’s allowed 12 earned runs in 27 innings (4.00 ERA) since the beginning of May.
If Salazar can regain his form, perhaps the front office should be looking for another bullpen arm.
The trade deadline is less than two weeks away, and we know this front office has been aggressive about improving the Indians.
Right now, the leaks are popping up quickly. The real issue is there is talent on this roster and it is time for the players to start playing like they can.