March 4, 2024

2018 Cleveland Indians Season Preview & Prediction

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The Indians will look to turn the page after a heartbreaking loss to the Yanks in last year’s postseason. The Tribe won 102 games in 2017 and most of the squad is back to hopefully win a World Series for the first time since 1948. The Indians did have a few departures such as Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce and bullpen workhorse, Bryan Shaw. However, the Tribe brought in former Mariners slugger, Yonder Alonso, and reunited with World Series hero, Rajai Davis. The Indians are the perennial favorites to win the AL Central. Now, the question is what will the Indians do when October rolls around. Only time will tell…..

Pitching:

Starting with the Tribe’s strongest asset, the pitching rotation. The Tribe returns arguably the best starting rotation in baseball that featured three pitchers that won at least 18 games in Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer. It’s the back part of the starting rotation that’s been the dilemma. Mike Clevinger has emerged as an upcoming star and is set to have a big year. Meanwhile, Danny Salazar continues to deal with injuries. Josh Tomlin will likely lock up the 5th final spot in the rotation. The Bullpen lost some key guys this offseason. So, the Tribe will look for Dan Otero and Tyler Olson to pick up the slack. The Indians will also look for the dynamic duo of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen to continue their dominant ways.

Catchers:

There is no question that Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez are fundamentally sound behind the plate. However, their offense tends to not be on the same level. Gomes hit .237 and Perez hit .207 last year. So that will have to improve. The Indians also have the number one catching prospect in Francisco Mejia, who is known for his bat.

Infielders:

One thing the Indians do not lack is good infielders. As a matter of fact, they have a slew of them. They’re led by All-Star Francisco Lindor, who is coming off his best season hitting – .273/33/89. Jose Ramirez is also coming off a career year in which he hit .319/29/83 and led the AL in doubles with 56. Jason Kipnis hit the injury bug last season, but he has shown that he is back to his all-star form this spring as he homered in six-straight games. Kipnis’ health will be a key going forward. With the departure of Carlos Santana, the Indians went out and signed Yonder Alonso to occupy 1st base.

Outfielders:

With the departures of Santana and Bruce, the Tribe’s outfield will try to look for some offensive production. Bradley Zimmer made a strong case for ROY before an injury sidelined him for the remainder of last season. Michael Brantley continues to battle injuries and was placed on the DL to start the season. Tyler Naquin will take his spot in LF for the time being. In RF will be Lonnie Chisenhall. The Indians brought back former Game 7 hero, Rajai Davis, to come off the bench along with Brandon Guyer. The Indians also used Greg Allen last year and could be used this year if needed.

Top Prospects:

  1. Francisco Mejia, C
  2. Triston McKenzie, RHP
  3. Bobby Bradley, 1B

Season Outlook:

The Indians, on paper, have what it takes to capture their third-straight division title. It will remain to be seen if this team is a World Series champion. They have arguably the best starting rotation in baseball. Even with the departures in their bullpen they still have the two-headed monster of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. The entire Indians infield all can hit over 20+ home runs and hit for average. In my opinion, this biggest question mark on this team is where will the offensive production come from with the outfielders. If the OF can keep up-to-par with their production and Lindor, Ramirez and Kipnis can play like the all-star caliber players that they are, there is a great chance that Cleveland can return to the World Series and finish what they started.

After receiving an award at the Greater Cleveland Sports Award Show, Terry Francona had a message to the baseball world, “After the sting of losing to the Yankees, in 28 days, I can guarantee we’re coming back with a vengeance.” So now that Francona has delivered the message, the question is will his players follow…..

Projected Starters:

Starting Pitchers:

  1. Corey Kluber
  2. Carlos Carrasco
  3. Trevor Bauer
  4. Mike Clevinger
  5. Josh Tomlin

Bullpen

  1. Cody Allen
  2. Andrew Miller
  3. Nick Goody
  4. Dan Otero
  5. Tyler Olson
  6. Zach McAllister
  7. Matt Belisle

Lineup

  1. Francisco Lindor, SS
  2. Jason Kipnis, 2B
  3. Bradley Zimmer, CF
  4. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
  5. Yonder Alonso, 1B
  6. Jose Ramirez, 3B
  7. Lonnie Chisenhall, RF
  8. Tyler Naquin, LF
  9. Yan Gomes, C

Bench Mob:

  1. Roberto Perez, C
  2. Rajai Davis, OF
  3. Brandon Guyer, OF
  4. Erik Gonzalez, IF

2018 Overall Record: 94-68

Division Finish: 1st Place

Postseason Prediction:

ALDS: Indians over Red Sox in 4 games.

ALCS: Indians over Yankees in 6 games.

World Series: Indians over Nationals in 6 games.

MVP: Carlos Carrasco

 

 

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