As part of the series of in-season reviews by UK fans of MLB, here is Ash Day (@AshDay29) with a look at the 2018 Indians so far. If you like what you read, be sure to check out Ash’s excellent Indians blog site.
How have things gone so far?
This 2018 Indians team can count themselves fortunate to play in such an abysmal division. The AL Central is undoubtedly the dumpster fire of the major leagues, and despite the level of talent Cleveland possess, they haven’t been able to stamp their authority over their rivals just yet. The starting pitching has been the strength of the team, with reigning AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber leading the charge, and looking on course for back-to-back pitching awards. The ace has had support from the impressive Trevor Bauer, who has surpassed expectations, and youngster Mike Clevinger, a man mature beyond his years and developing into a reliable mid-rotation starter. The lineup has been superb as well, with three of the team’s core guys (Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion) recording more than 20 home runs already. Michael Brantley, now returned to full health, has been a revelation for the club and has led by example with his consistency at making contact (and leads the team in batting average as well). I had my doubts over the bullpen before the start of the season and sadly they have proven true, as the relief corps has been extremely underwhelming. Together, they cost the Tribe a number of wins in the early months of the season. Despite these struggles, the team as a whole have begun to find some form of late and have put some distance between themselves and their AL Central competition. Unless a disaster happens, I don’t expect the Indians to relinquish their hold on first place. 7/10
Stars and flops
As I mentioned before, Kluber and Bauer have been a powerful one-two punch in the rotation, but offensively you cannot look any further than Jose Ramirez for Cleveland’s star man. Ramirez is performing at an MVP level, and if he can maintain this pace he should receive serious consideration for the award. Lindor, my pre-season prediction for most valuable Indian, isn’t far behind Ramirez in terms of production, and together they are the heart of this team. In terms of flops, again I have to look towards the bullpen. Andrew Miller hasn’t looked healthy all year and has been in and out of the team with injuries, and his supporting cast has been poor across the board.
The Indians’ trip to Puerto Rico in mid-April to play the Twins was a memorable moment, particularly for Francisco Lindor. In the first game of the series, Lindor crushed a 2-run homer in front of his native Puerto Rican crowd and his audience loved every bit of it, raining down chants of “Lindor! Lindor!” as he rounded the bases. It’s got to be the most emotional curtain call he’s had so far in his young career.
Revised Win-Loss Prediction
I’m deducting a few wins from my 98-64 pre-season prediction. The Indians will still win the AL Central, but I think they’ll do it with a 93-69 record.