By Ross Sutton
Last year, the Cleveland Indians finished with an impressive 102-60 record and won the American League Central by a whopping 17 games. 2017 was a rollercoaster year for the Indians and their fans as the team went on a 22 game win streak but later lost to the Yankees in the ALDS despite winning the first two games of the series. So far this offseason, the only player the Indians have signed to a major league contract is first baseman Yonder Alonso. They have also signed Melvin Upton Jr., Rajai Davis and Mike Napoli to minor league contracts. The biggest storyline for the Indians this offseason has been the key contributors from years past that have signed with other teams in free agency. Overall, the Indians have lost Carlos Santana (Phillies), Bryan Shaw (Rockies), Jay Bruce (Mets), Joe Smith (Astros) and Austin Jackson (Giants) in free agency so they will have a few important roles that will need to be filled in 2018.
Luckily for the Indians, they will bring back their starting rotation that performed incredibly well throughout last season. This group of pitchers is centered around reigning Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber who finished last year with an 18-4 record and a 2.25 ERA in 203.2 innings. Cleveland can also rely on star shortstop Francisco Lindor this year, who in 159 games last season, hit 33 home runs, had 89 RBIs and stole 15 bases. The Indians seemed to be a little burnt out in the playoffs last season after going to game 7 of the World Series in 2016 and going on a 22 game win streak during the regular season last year. I believe last year’s early playoff exit will be a good thing for the Indians this upcoming season as they will get a few extra weeks of rest compared to what they got last offseason and the team is sure to be extremely motivated to beat the Astros, Yankees and Red Sox in 2018. For this upcoming season, I predict the Indians will go 93-69 and win their division for the third straight year but will not get past the ALDS. To put it simply, I think the Astros, Yankees and Red Sox are better than the Indians and the players Cleveland lost in free agency this offseason will hurt the overall quality of the team. Obviously a lot can change from now until the start of the playoffs so I’m not going to disregard the Indians as contenders for the American League pennant, but I think a lot needs to go right for the team in order to make it to the fall classic this upcoming season.
All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com
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