When a championship caliber team, who played in the World Series the year before, comes into the season with high expectations from themselves and the fans, teams tend to have a hard time living up to those expectation sometimes. The Cleveland Indians are experiencing that, almost halfway through the season. The talent is there, but the results have not been there so far. There has been a couple of reasons for that.
First off, the pitching staff has been anything but consistent. Corey Kluber has been their ace all year. He missed a month, being on the DL, but has had very few bad games while he has been healthy. When he gets a couple runs of support, he is nearly impossible to beat. They have done a good job supporting him so far, this year. Carlos Carrasco has also been really good for the most part. He has stayed healthy, which has been a struggle with him in recent years. Starters 3-5 have been a mystery most games. Josh Tomlin, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger have shown flashes of being really good, but have not done it on a consistent pace.
Their bullpen is one of the best in baseball. They have 4-5 really good arms, with Andrew Miller and underappreciated Cody Allen anchoring their pen. When you have two guys as good as them, you only need your starter to go 6 innings before handing the ball off to Bryan Shaw, who also takes a lot of slack sometimes, even though he is one of the better bullpen arms in the game today. During the season, you cannot throw those guys every day, so you need some depth, and the Indians have that. With guys like Zach McAlister, Nick Goody, Boone Logan and Shawn Armstrong, Terry Francona has a variety of arms that can come in and get outs for him.
The bats have been a different story so far. Jose Ramirez is having an MVP Caliber season, building off his breakout year from last season. Michael Brantley has been his normal self when he has been healthy and on the field. Lonnie Chisenhall has hit the ball very well and played right field just like they have needed from him. After that, the rest of the lineup has been inconsistent, looking great at times. In order to get to where they want to be, they need Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis to pick up their production. They are both hitting in the low .200s, which is not good for either of them. Edwin Encarnacion has picked it up from the terrible start he was having, hitting near his average from past couple seasons.
If they can stay healthy, I am pretty positive the Indians will figure it out and start clicking in the second half of the year. Some momentum going into the all-star break would surely help. They have a chance, starting tonight, to widen the lead on the rest of the Central, which starts by beating the Detroit Tigers. They may make a couple moves before the deadline, but they feel like they can play much better and that will fix some of their problems internally. A starting pitcher would do them wonders, but it would have to be beneficial both for the team and financially.