CANTON, Ohio- With Spring training in session. I had a couple thoughts on the Cleveland Indians.
There has been talk about the Indians going to a 6-man rotation to start the season. I actually like that idea. I understand that these players have had three months off. But, with the expectations being as high as they are for Cleveland, say the Indians are fortunate enough to go to the World Series again this year. The regular season starts in early April and only the fortunate teams make it to October. That’s a long time!
My point? Why not go with a 6-man rotation to start the season? This would help limit the wear and tear on pitchers like Kluber, Salazar and Carrasco. I’m figuring that Trevor Bauer will get the fifth spot in the starting rotation and Josh Tomlin will get the fourth spot in the rotation. So, who could the Tribe drop into the sixth spot? Here are a some names. Mike Clevinger, Ryan Merritt or Cody Anderson. I would put Zach McAllister in that list, but I think he’s better off in the bullpen. I still say the same thing about Bauer, but I’m really hoping he proves me wrong if, indeed, he does get awarded a spot in the rotation.
Trevor Bauer was a 3rd overall pick in the first round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. So far in Cactus league play in 2017, he’s pitched two games with a 1-0 record. 6 innings pitched with 1 strikeout. Bauer’s flaw? Once he starts giving up one or two hits in an inning, he starts to question himself. If Bauer could get past that, I truly think he could be a top 3 starter in a rotation. Bauer has great stuff from a pitching standpoint. He just needs to have a shorter memory. What I love about Bauer? He loves the game of baseball and loves his teammates. He is constantly trying to become a better pitcher. I would never question his work ethic.
Ryan Merritt, for me, really earned a lot of points last year when he held a very good Toronto Blue Jays lineup in check. Merritt was selected by the Indians with the 488th pick in the 16th round of the 2011 draft. Now, I’m biased with Merritt. I’m a lefty when it comes to hitting and pitching. So yes, I’m rooting for Merritt. But, I also think Cleveland could use one lefty in the starting rotation. Now, getting back to the series clinching game over Toronto. It definitely, in my opinion, benefitted Merritt that the Blue Jays had never faced him before.
Mike Clevinger is having a decent Spring thus far. In 3 starts, Clevinger is 2-0 with a 6.75 ERA. Mike has pitched 4 innings while striking out 6. Clevinger has the advantage of having some experience already at the big-league level. In 2016, Mike started 10 games, but had a 5.26 ERA, but he did strike out 50 in 53 innings pitched.
Cody Anderson also has some experience with the big-league club. In 2016, Anderson started 9 games but did have an ERA of 6.68. Cody Anderson pitched in 60.2 innings striking out 54. So far in Spring training, Cody has started 5 games and has a 4.21 ERA in 25.2 innings pitched. Cody has struck out 20.
So, if the Indians do indeed go to a six-man rotation, those are the names I’m throwing out there that I’d consider.
ABOUT MICHAEL BRANTLEY-
On Monday morning, Brantley was taking part in a simulated game with pitcher Josh Tomlin. I’ve been suggested by a friend that maybe the Indians should have Carlos Santana start in the outfield, let Edwin start at first base and have Brantley start the season as the DH. Honestly, that’s not a bad idea in my opinion. I know that Santana isn’t an All-Star outfielder. But, why not ease Brantley back into the swing of things. The other reason I gave this some extensive thought? The weather. I’m not expecting the greatest of weather in Cleveland in the middle of April. I understand Cleveland starts out the season on the road with series at Texas and at Arizona. That wouldn’t be a bad place for Brantley to maybe get back on the field. But, maybe that’s rushing him too fast.
I would hate to see Brantley get his swing back, then get injured again while making a diving play for the baseball. That’s my big concern. And, if you don’t already know, cold weather and muscles don’t really get along. It takes time to get your muscles warmed up in the cold weather. I just think Cleveland would be better off only playing Brantley in the outfield when it’s warm out. That is, until he shows that he’s ready to go and that he’s back to 100%.
THE INDIANS AND HEALTH-
If the Indians can stay somewhat healthy during the season, they could win close to 100 games. I understand that every team gets hit with the injury bug during a 162 games season. But, if they can stay relatively healthy, this Tribe team has the chance at really racking up the wins.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis