The Cleveland Indians have WON 7 IN A ROW! This is remarkable since the season start looked bleak after an 0-2 start. How have they done it so far?
1. Starters The starters have avoided the big inning. In the two losses to begin the 2011 season, the White Sox had a big inning scoring 8 in the 4th inning on Opening Day and 4 in the 2nd inning of Game 2. Since then the big inning has been nonexistant. The starters since Game 2 have allowed, in the 7 wins, 9 total runs. In the 2 losses, the starters have allowed 17 total runs.
2. Bullpen The bullpen has been very consistent. Coming out of Spring Training, the general consensus has been it was the strength of the team. So far, this has proven to be true. In the 7 wins, the bullpen came in with the lead and never allowed the opposition to tie the score. In the 2 losses the bullpen surrendered a total of 6 runs. In the 7 wins, a total of 5 runs have been surrendered. For a bullpen to be successful, it needs to have a lead to protect. In the two losses, the bullpen added to the chaos caused by the starters. In the seven wins, the lead was never surrendered.
3. Hitters Anytime a lineup is pressed to score a bunch of runs and come from behind, it makes it very hard to win. In the 2 losses, the Indians at one point found themselves behind 14-0 on Opening Day and 5-0 in Game 2. For the 7 wins, they were only behind in two of the games by the score of 1-0. Otherwise, they scored first and never surrendered the lead. 39 runs scored 13 runs scored in the two losses. They scored 12 in Friday’s win alone. Leading the way is Travis “Pronk” Hafner. He is not relying strictly on the long ball for his offensive production. He is 10-27 with 2 homeruns and had gotten a hit in every game he has played in this season and has a .370 batting average so far. Overall, the team has has a .285 batting average, 6th among all in Major League Baseball, 11 homeruns, tied for 6th in MLB, 86 hits, 6th in MLB and 49 runs batted in, 6th in MLB.
All in all, these consistencies have helped the Tribe to have a successful start to the 2011 campaign. Let us hope these trends can continue to improve as the season continues.
Looking at the choices they made
The Fab 5 known as the starting pitchers for the 2011 Cleveland Indians at the onset consist of Fausto Carmona, Carlos Carrasco, Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin and Mitch Talbot in this order. After listening tonight to Mitch Talbot’s performance, the temptation is to say, “uh, @Mactriber_11, yeah, Mr. Acta, are you sure you want Mitch after today’s 7-4 loss where he gave up a grand slam and 7 runs and 14 hits in 6 innings of work? Shouldn’t we go with David Huff or Jeanmar Gomez instead?” I think the answer Manager Manny Acta or General Manager Chris Antonetti would give and have given is one word, consistency! Looking at the collection of the entire spring, I can see why these 5 pitchers were chosen to represent the Indians every 5 days to begin games. Here are my thoughts.
Thoughts about the starting rotation
The definition of the word ace, according to dictionary.com, that best describes Fausto Carmona is a very skilled person; expert. When looking at the 5 pitchers selected for the rotation, Carmona is the most skilled of the young rotation. In looking over his stats, the stats show his ERA is way up. However, what is encouraging is his strikeouts are up too. The idea of attacking the strike zone is working. For him to be the true ace, attacking the strike zone is what will be needed and is needed.
In 2007, Fausto Carmona showed stats of 11 strikeouts and surrendering 8 walks. this led to a 2007 regular season where he surrendered 61 walks and struck out 137 batters leading to a 19-8 regular season record. In 2011, so far in Spring Training, Fausto has struck out 21 batters and walked only 7 batters. The potential is there to be better than he was in 2007. 19 wins in any year is hard to come across. Now the potential is here for Fausto to be another 20 game winner. If the numbers prove correct, 20 or more wins for Fausto could be accomplished. Talk about an ace! Wow! No matter what actually happens, he is still an ace because of all the starters currently, he does have the most experience, he is the expert on the current staff. Good luck Fausto, be the ACE!
In 16 2/3 innings pitched, young Carlos Carrasco had 6 walks and 14 strikeouts. Remember, however, he missed some time to welcome his newborn daughter into the world. Why a number 2 pitcher? His stats look similar to Jeanmar Gomez. I think Carlos Carrasco was named the #2 starter not based on these stats. Simply put, Manager Manny Acta stated that he wanted to seperate Carmona, the sinkerball pitcher from Masterson, another sinkerball pitcher. Seeing these two pitchers back to back did not seem prudent coming into the start of 2011. On a personal level, I think Carlos, bringing a daughter into the world, requires a great deal of given responsibility. The hope is that Carrasco will grasp this responsibility and transform it to the mound in a #2 role on the staff.
Meet sinkerballer #2. Breaking up Carmona and him on back to back games will help them tremendously and help both he and Fausto in the process. At least, this is the hope as the 2011 season opens. The goal is to get him in the mindset to keep his sinkerball from going flat and up in the strike zone. I think if he keep the ball down and keeps attacking the strike zone along with trusting the defense behind him that he can be effective. We shall see what develops as the season begins.
The most consistent of the 5 pitchers earned him the #4 spot even though he was just named yesterday officially to the rotation. Every time I heard about a start or a workout by Tomlin in Spring Training, nothing but positive reports followed. He was pitching better than Mitch Talbot and this earned him the #4 starter position. He had two starts for the Spring. He only gave up 1 run all Spring on 9 hits in two starts against the offensive powerhouses in Texas and Los Angeles Angels. The rest of the outings impressed the coaches and manager when he was placed in intrasquad or B games and today will be another test to help Tomlin before the season. We shall see what happens.
Based on the facts that Mitch Talbot was struggling to get people out by strikeout and that he was not as effective as Josh Tomlin made him the 5th starter. Acta was impressed with how Talbot was getting his sinkerball over for strikes against Prince Fielder for strikes. He also was impressed with Mitch Talbot getting up to 100 pitches in yesterday’s action.
Two side notes in conversation that Acta brings up. One is former Cleveland Indians player and former AAA pitching coach Charlie Nagy’s old line that stated that when pitching you become the #1 starter and when done, the next day you become the #5 starter. Also each starter will not skip turns as the season starts even if days off or cancelled games occur. It will be nice to see each pitcher handle this and not be skipped over. Hopefully the team will respond well also.
Why not Gomez or Huff
Consistency was telling me that Huff and Gomez were showing the most inconsistency among the starters for the Tribe and needed more development than the top 5 starting pitchers named. Still, they were asked to stay ready in case they were needed by the Tribe.
Depth is the name for the young Tribe and isn’t it nice to have. Pitchers that can step in and pitch effectively in a moment’s notice. Now we have a sixth and a seventh starter that need more innings to pitch to get better. The goal is to get better. Having depth can only help this team especially when injuries can occur unfortunatly. Huff and Gomez can help make AAA Columbus also better while waiting for their opportunity in the big leagues. I like having depth. Now the goal is to transfer all this potential and promise into wins for the Cleveland Indians for 2011 This 2011 starting rotation is a start. These are my thoughts. What are yours?
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The Cleveland Indians had the day off yesterday. It was the only one for them until the end of spring training, 15 days to be exact. Here is an observation.
Masterson needs to be more consistent
The starting rotation seems to be set. Already knowing early that Carmona was the Opening Day starter. Masterson seems ready to be in the rotation. He needs to show consistency for me to be more confident in his abilities. However, I am learning to realize that when a pitcher knows that he is going to be in a rotation, runs will pile up because the pitcher is not so focused on results as they are in just getting their work in. Masterson showed how masterful his potential can be when he struck out 5 Cubs in 3 innings without giving up a hit or run. Yet in this last performance, Masterson gave up 5 runs and 7 hits while striking out 4 batters in 4 innings of work. What is needed for me to show more confidence is for Masterson to show more consistency in his outings. If one outing he looks like the next Cy Young and another he looks like the next Juan Eichelberger, then there is going to be a problem competing all year.
Mitch Talbot needs to show me more of this every time.
In Tuesday’s, 3/15/11’s, game, Mitch Talbot looked much, much smoother. 1 run and 6 hits in 5 innings pitched is a job worthy of a rotation spot. Mitch showed that he belonged in the rotation. Like the other pitchers, I think Mitch pitches better with a chip on his professional shoulder, one that says “you stink, prove to me that you belong here.” With his outings before this one, I believe he was out to show the critics that it is spring training and the goal to be ready for the regular season is still in order for Mitch.
Tomlin is in, Huff is out
This is an official opinion. However based on seeing the outing by Huff 4 runs on 6 hits in 2 2/3 innings pitched had me already believing that David Huff would begin the year in AAA Columbus. Tomlin on the other hand, showed major league consistency 1.13 ERA, no runs on 3 hits in 3 innings pitched told me the 5th starter job is his for the beginning of the season and hopefully throughout the season.
Carrasco is pitching now for others besides himself.
Carlos Carrasco is behind the others since he took some time off to help see his son born into the world. This being said he was fairly impressive getting his work in by giving up 3 runs and 6 hits in a 7-2 loss on Sunday. I believe he will start to get better as we get closer to the season. He was listed as a #4 starter this year.
Bringing it together
For the Indians to begin to turn the page on the 2011 season, the rotation, a question mark for the upcoming year, has to be more consistently stronger. All 5 starters (Carmona, Masterson, Talbot, Tomlin (if chosen) and Carrasco have all given impressive outings in at least 1 of their starts this spring. Three of the pitchers gave this in their last outing We fans need to see them getting better for not just a night or two but in consecutive starts. I believe if each person chosen for the 2011 rotation can show more consistent effort, then the hope and optimism will help the fans embrace this team again.
By the way, it is not for lack of love for the team that some of us fans, including myself do not go to games other than Opening Day. It deals with time and schedule. For me, the ability to go to games is difficult because of the schedule. I work much during most of their games. However I will try my best to go to games when I can on my days off. Finances come into play also. All, in all, however, my family will try everything to put forth more consistency in putting ourselves in the stands. Once again, it is my great hope the players can show more consistency for other more casual fans to come back also.
Thoughts about the Week that was for the Cleveland Indians organization
The Cleveland Indians entered last weekend at 3-3 and was very impressive in their game against Chicago last Saturday in a split squad affair at their home field in Goodyear, AZ before officially losing in Peoria, AZ in the other game. This game would be the last official win for the team the entire week. I know these games don’t count. I have visited Spring Training. The regulars get their work in and often leave before the game is actually over. I get it. Still, for a young team to feel confident, I believe some wins in these meaningless games would build some confidence. For my example, I look at the San Diego Padres of 2010. We all remember how they finished the year, one game from making the playoffs losing in the end to the NL West division rival and World Champion San Francisco Giants. Nobody picked them to be anywhere near contention last year. Yet in these games that “do not matter”, the Padres finished on a 9 game winning streak and near the top of the Cactus League standings last year. Arguably this momentum helped propel the franchise to contend all the way through the regular season. I point that team out because many fans have compared us to that type of team if we are going to compete and one day contend again in the AL Central. Hopefully they can build up some wins as we continue on this coming week.
Oh the pitching, the horrendous pitching!
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this past week to see the pitching staff give up a total of 41 runs and have 37 of the runs be earned in the games did not give me great confidence that this staff was ever going to be one to be counted on at all to provide a “winning” record or at least better than last year.
Looking at just the starting rotation competition, we found on Monday, Mitch Talbot, an acquisition from Tampa Bay last year, gave up 9 runs, all earned in 1 and 1/3 innings pitched. Granted there was a wind blowing out. Still, it was not impressive. On Tuesday, the ace of the staff, Fausto Carmona gave up 6 runs, all earned in his 3 innings of work. On Wednesday, the combination of Carlos Carrasco and David Huff combined to give up 6 total runs, all earned in 5 innings of work. From all these runs, I just the Indians were being run out of town altogether. These games were getting uglier and uglier to watch, listen to, and read about. I was almost getting prepared to handle a third major franchise in last place right out of the gate. The way this pitching was performing, it was easy to see us fighting for the basement from the start all the way to the finish of the season. It was hard to see the hope for improvement and the “winning” the Indians were trying to sell us with.
This was almost a no-no!
Thursday I was finally off and able to listen to the game live on MLB.com. I was reeling off the past three games on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and wondering how we would fare against the Cubs. In his last outing on Sunday, Justin Masterson gave up 2 runs both earned in his three innings of work. So I was expecting the trend to continue. The Indians starting rotation candidates mentioned above had 12 strikeouts all together, including Masterson, on Sunday. In Thursday’s game, the starting rotation candidates, Masterson and Jeanmar Gomez combined for eight strikeouts and only one hit allowed in 6 innings. 2/3 of the amount of strikeouts the starters had all week were found in this game. It was amazing how much better the pitching was described to be like in this game on Thursday compared to the efforts shown all week. It was a shame we still lost this contest!
Much better, still no win!
The Indians played much better in a 5-5 tie yesterday. This was a game I had circled the calendar on when looking at the schedule when it first was released as a must win for the Tribe! Well, at least it was a game we must not lose because it was against the Seattle Mariners and former Indians manager, Eric Wedge. The effort was much better as the Indians battled back from being down twice. Also the starting pitcher, Mitch Talbot gave up three runs, two earned in his three innings of work. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a round tripper. All in all, it was a sign that hopefully winning would return to the Indians soon.
Comings and goings
The Indians announced that they were sending eight on the roster to Minor League camp. Included among the people were sent to Minor league camp was Drew Pomeranz, the highly touted prospect. The plan is for him to start in Kinston, the Indians high A affiliate. Right-handed pitchers Corey Kluber and Hector Rondon and infielder Jared Goedert were optioned to AAA Columbus. Left-handed pitchers Nick Hagadone and Kelvin De La Cruz were optioned to AA Akron. Bryce Stowall and Chun Chen were also reassigned to minor league camp. Today also was the first appearence in camp for free agent signee Nick Johnson. No timetable was assigned for him to be ready to join the team. However, he hopes to play in some games by late April. Also former Indian Jason Davis was back in camp just to tryout and show the Indians what he might possibly be able to give the Indians but was not signed to any official contract.
Hopefully, these moves and efforts can get us motivated and building in the right direction for winning again here in Cleveland!