The 2019 season for the Indians was a true rollercoaster. The slow start to the season with Frankie on the DL. Kluber taking that ball off the forearm and basically being out for the year. Mike Clevinger was out early with a leg injury and came back to be one of our best pitchers. Cleveland was the overwhelming favorite to win the American League Central Division to how they played last year.
Which Indians players stepped up
The Indians dealt with a lot of injuries this past season. It forced GM Mike Chernoff to dive into the very talented Minor League players the Indians have been developing. You saw pitchers like Adam Plutko, Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac, All-Star MVP Shane Bieber, and Jefry Rodriguez all get extended time with the Indians. The best showing of the position players this year was Oscar Mercado. Mercado had your typical rookie type season with ups and downs, but there were definitely more ups from what I saw. Not only did he show power this year with 15 HR, but he showed great range and defense while playing CF. The Indians also got good contributions from players like Jordan Luplow, Kevin Plawecki, Jake Bauers, Greg Allen, and Tyler Naquin.
The starting rotation will be stacked
With the emergence of Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger, Aaron Civale, and Zach Plesac this starting rotation could be dangerous if healthy. You can almost pencil in these four at the start of the season and a healthy Cory Kluber. This could be one of the best starting pitching rotations in the MLB. It will be interesting to see who Tito Francona picks as his day one starter. Tito has four possible studs to go with. This will be interesting to see how this plays out during the season. The crazy part of this staff is who will not be on the roster due to being a starter. Where does Adam Plutko and Jefy Rodriguez fall into the rotation mix? Does the GM use them as trade capital to boost the bullpen. The bullpen did let the Indians down as they were pushing for a wildcard spot.
The positions players on the rise
We have already spoke about Mercado and his breakout season. So, lets get into those who either played a little or are ready to fight for a roster spot in 2020. You hope to have a healthy Frankie and Jose as you head into the season, but what about those that were hurt last year. Bradley Zimmer could be a key to having a speedy and dynamic outfield. When you put the speed of Zimmer, Mercado, and Allen out there, you better hit a screamer to get it past them. The biggest stud the Indians have in the farm system is Bobby Bradley. He came up for a short stint due to injury and unfortunately struggled. Hopefully he can use that experience and apply it for the 2020 season.
Tyler Naquin had himself a really productive year until he lost in a sliding collision with the wall and tore his ACL. Carlos Santana had himself one hell of a year as he came back to Cleveland after spending a season in Philly. He is happy and loves being in Cleveland and we love having Los back on the team as a leader. The big acquisition that was made at the trade deadline was when the Indians were able to Franmil Reyes. This kid has not yet hit his prime and he put up a combined 37 HR in both leagues. Franmil will only get better as he gets to hit pretty much everyday as the DH for Tito. Throw in a breakout season from catcher Roberto Perez and you have a pretty stout lineup to face.
Expectations for 2020
As long as injuries stay away, the 2020 Indians should be a favorite to win the Central and fight it out with the Twins. How they fill the empty spot created by not resigning Jason Kipnis will be something to follow this offseason. How will Mike Chernoff approach it. Jose has already told Indians brass that he is willing to move back to 2nd base. This gives the front office options as who they may want to go after. It will be interesting to see what happens with the bullpen as most of the year it was one of the best, but down the stretch they imploded. I look forward to following this 2020 Indians team as it will be exciting to watch and the pitching should be amazing. The contract of Frankie Lindor will be must watch too.
Discuss this article and more in the Overtime Heroics Forums!
Check out our partners at Shoreline Sportsbook for all of your sport betting needs! Use promo code OTHGambling when you sign up and get your deposit matched 100% up to $500!