“The Target” – A Cleveland Indians preview

Dear Cleveland Indians,

Congratulations on doing the best job of team-building from within of any franchise in major league baseball. Everyone likes to talk about the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros. We’d like to think that had you won that one little itty-bitty Game Seven, they’d all be talking about you, instead.

We can’t tell you how impressive it is that you got all the way to the last game of the World Series without signing any major free agents or trading for any established big-league regulars, except for that quick little midseason swap for a dominant lefty reliever in Andrew Miller (for which we’ll forgive you!). Almost the entirety of your roster was acquired through savvy trades, good drafting, and great player development. Everyone should be totally fawning over that accomplishment, but then the rain happened, that overcompensated Cubs guy gave a speech, and welp, the rest is history.

Still, look where you are now! Sure, the record isn’t overwhelming, but hey, first place is nothing to sneeze at, right? I mean, when you have an elite defensive talent at shortstop in Francisco Lindor who’s one of the better hitters for average and power around, that’s pretty darn good! And what a find that Jose Ramirez guy has been! Who would have thought that he’d be a guy who could OPS close to 1.000 in the major leagues? No one, that’s who. And how could we forget Michael Brantley? He’s looking like the guy who finished third in the MVP race four years ago. What a nice comeback story he’s been.

We know the news hasn’t all been good. Edwin Encarnacion seems to have finally started to hit his decline, but you sort of knew what you were getting into there. And what the heck happened to Jason Kipnis? The guy used to be a wonderful little player and now he looks like late-stage left-handed Jeff Keppinger. Yonder Alonso hasn’t made good on a follow-up season to his big breakthrough, either, though he seems to be getting fairly unlucky. And wow, how about those injuries, huh? Between Brandon Guyer, Bradley Zimmer, Tyler Naquin, and Lonnie Chisenhall being hurt, you’ve really had to test your outfield depth. Now you’re forced to use Greg Allen (who we know can’t hit a lick just yet but at least catches the ball really well) and guys who stink, like Rajai Davis and Melky Cabrera. We feel your pain, we’ve all been there.

Still, you have one heck of a pitching staff to help ease the pain. Can you believe that Corey Kluber is sometimes called the best pitcher in baseball? What a rock that guy’s been for you. Carlos Carrasco has always looked like an ace when healthy, and now Trevor Bauer‘s looking like one too! It seems like Bauer’s throwing harder and he’s brought his slider back, plus he actually has some useful thoughts on the whole issue with sticky substances and spin rate once you get past all the rancor. Even Mike Clevinger and his tough breaking pitches are looking pretty good. You’ll have a tough time faltering with these four guys healthy and firing.

We also see you decided to stop running Josh Tomlin out there as a starter. The homers finally got to be too much for you, eh? Well, we still think he’s neat. It’s at least super interesting that he’s allowed 158 career homers and only 127 career walks. We’re not sure whether this unheralded Adam Plutko kid is going to stick, but as far as nerdy statistical entertainment is concerned, he’s got some big shoes to fill.

Anyways, we’re all such great fans of your work, so we want to show our appreciation for the example you set. Please find enclosed our gift, a third straight AL Central title. We know, we know, it’s the same thing we got you last year and the year before that, but we know this is what you love, and when it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Plus, c’mon, you’ve seen what happens when we try to get creative and think for ourselves. We’d probably just make a mistake and screw the whole thing up, and we want you to be happy with your gift. We promise to not put up much of a fight (heck, the majority of us are not even going to TRY to assemble a competent threat this time). Thanks for being the target we love to aim for, but can never hit. We hope you have a great October.

With loving admiration,

-The Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, and Kansas City Royals

Probable Starting Pitchers

  • Monday, May 28: Dylan Covey vs. Adam Plutko
  • Tuesday, May 29: Lucas Giolito vs. Mike Clevinger
  • Wednesday, May 30: Reynaldo Lopez vs. Corey Kluber

Probable Lineup

  1. Francisco Lindor – SS
  2. Michael Brantley – LF
  3. Jose Ramirez – 3B
  4. Edwin Encarnacion – DH
  5. Yonder Alonso – 1B
  6. Melky Cabrera – RF
  7. Jason Kipnis – 2B
  8. Yan Gomes – C
  9. Greg Allen – CF

Pitching

  • SP1. Corey Kluber – RHP
  • SP2. Carlos Carrasco – RHP
  • SP3. Trevor Bauer – RHP
  • SP4. Mike Clevinger – RHP
  • SP5. Adam Plutko – RHP
  • CL. Cody Allen – RHP
  • RP1. Andrew Miller – LHP
  • RP2. Dan Otero – RHP
  • RP3. Zach McAllister – RHP
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Patrick Nolan
Patrick Nolan
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As Cirensica

Nice preview. I thought you would mention that Indian’s bullpen ranks last in the American League.

PauliePaulie

This is so damn perfect.

The Indians are the team in the Central I have the most difficult time disliking. Interactions with their fans are always pleasant, and the players are likeable.

Except Trevor Bauer. That guy’s a jackass.

Greg Nix

No Jimenez continues to be ridiculous, but at least it’s fun seeing minor league journeymen make their ML debuts.

asinwreck

Yep, welcome to the Show Matt Skole. Enjoy the experience.

oljeto

You have to realize how fragile all our major draft picks are. Wouldn’t want to bring them up and have them wet their pants.
I don’t get it either. Learn how to hit major league pitching.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I really don’t think that’s the reason.

Otter

We’ve got (hopefully) six plus years of Eloy to look forward to. Let Skole have his six days.