The Cleveland Indians sit currently at 101 wins with two games left in the regular season and the biggest reason behind their success the last several seasons has been their starting pitching.
Chris Antonetti, Terry Francona and Mickey Callaway have done a fantastic at acquiring and molding the rotation over the last past couple years into the best in all of baseball.
Whether it’s acquiring them in trades with Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco or developing their own with Josh Tomlin and Danny Salazar, the Indians have put themselves in a great situation to have a rotation to rely on for the next several years to keep them in World Series contention.
Corey Kluber is the overwhelming favorite to win the American League Cy Young as he’s pitched lights out in the second half of the season.
Missing a month early in the season, Kluber came back in a strong way. In the second half of the season, Kluber is 11-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 14 starts. He’s also struck out 139 batters while giving up just 12 walks.
Carlos Carrasco is having his best season in his eight year career going 18-6 with a 3.29 ERA. With a career high 226 strikeouts and avoiding any injuries going over 200 innings pitched in a season for the first time. Himself and Kluber are arguably the best 1-2 punch in baseball.
Trevor Bauer has always been a controversial subject since coming into Cleveland a few years ago. He’s always had the talent but his behavior has been a major question mark.
In the second half, he’s started to settle down and show his true potential going 10-2 with a 3.01 ERA in route to a career high 17 wins this season.
Hopefully he’s focused on helping Cleveland win a World Series instead of his drones which nearly lost him a finger last October.
As for the rest of the rotation, there’s three guys who can all help us whether it’s as an emergency starter or out of the bullpen.
Mike Clevinger has been a great surprise since being called up early on. He’s already transitioned to the bullpen after winning 11 games as a starter. He picked up his 12th win in relief this past Wednesday.
He’ll be a long relief option I believe in case one of our starters has a tough outing in the postseason.
Josh Tomlin could be left off the postseason roster but I think after last year’s performance, he deserves to be there.
The 32 year old veteran has had a up and down 2017 season with injuries and average performance. He’s 4-0 with a 3.38 ERA in the second half so he’s been reliable down the stretch for the club.
Last year in the postseason, he had three strong outings against Boston, Toronto and Chicago before the Cubs roughed him up in Game 6 of the World Series.
He has the experience to play in these big games and I think he deserves to be apart of the pitching staff in some form in October.
And then there’s Danny Salazar.
Four years ago, he took the mound as a rookie in the Wild Card Game, with fans having flashbacks of Jaret Wright starting in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series.
Since then, his career has been similar of Wright’s with injuries and inconsistent performances making fans worried he’ll never live up to his full potential.
He’s recently been in the bullpen much like Clevinger and that seems to be where he’ll be at for the postseason.
He locked up his spot on the roster this past Wednesday with a elite performance against Minnesota. He pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up one hit and nine strikeouts.
If the Indians pitching can stay on track, then I don’t see how this team isn’t going to represent the American League in the World Series and potentially bring Cleveland it’s first World Series championship in 69 years.
I’m not a big analytics person but the Indians pitching in terms of analytics are the best of all-time. Their 30.9 fWAR (Wins Above Replacement) is 1.4 wins ahead of the 1996 Atlanta Braves which featured Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.
They’ve also struck out 27.4% of the batters they’ve faced which is also the best mark ever in baseball history (1,067 strikeouts among the six pitchers I mentioned above).