Tuesday, July 3, 2018
A Different Kind of Tribe
For the majority of the first third of the season, the Indians were in first, but...they weren't really themselves. The Tigers were close behind, and the Tribe were really only over .500 by one or two games.
And then...I dunno what it was, but the real Indians shined through, and they've been pretty consistently great ever since late May. I don't think there were any substantial changes to formula or anything, I just think that something just snapped into gear and the wins kept coming easier and easier. And they're not just wins- a lot of the last few weeks' wins have been BLOWOUTS. Since June 20th, the Indians have won FOUR games by scoring 10 points or more. And a lot of these have been against division rivals.
The only changes have been minimal: Shane Bieber has been promoted to fifth-starter, and he's been doing a bang-up job of it so far, with 3 wins in 4 games, and 27 strikeouts. Again, that's a stone's through compared to the work of Corey Kluber, who's up to 115 strikeouts and 11 wins, but...Kluber's one of the best in the league, and he's also one of the more ferocious-yet-consistent pitchers in baseball. Trevor Bauer has a lower ERA and more strikeouts, but he's also not as good at winning games as Kluber- Bauer's high-velocity approach allows for more strikeouts, but...also more walks. Kluber has the better control, even all those years later.
The only other modifications have been to the outfield, with Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin getting more time, as Brandon Guyer and Bradley Zimmer have been phased out due to various reasons. Rajai Davis, while not at 2016-mode, has been delivering solid numbers off the bench as well. Other than some much-needed bullpen renovation (thanks to the addition of Oliver Perez, I might add), the roster has predominantly stayed the same, and everyone's just beginning to get really hot, which is nice.
I don't think anyone else in the AL Central stands a chance, so while I don't especially think the Indians are going to coast these next few months, I do think the division title will be theirs if this new formula they're using works.
Coming Tonight: The Cubs' outfield as a whole have been breaking out this year, but this guy in particular has been doing pretty well.