With the first game of Spring Training fast approaching, its time to take a look at the Reds opponent in that game, and the team that shares their complex in Goodyear, Ariz., the Cleveland Indians.
Cleveland (81-80, 3rd in AL Central, 13.5 GB)
Key Additions: Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis
Key Departures: Chris Johnson, Mike Aviles, Ryan Raburn
Reds Dates: @Cle May 16-17, @Cin May 18-19
Terry Francona leads the Tribe for the fourth year as the Cleveland manager and has yet to lead them to a losing season although the 2015 campaign was close. He’ll look to capture the 2013 magic that won him Manager of the Year and the put the Indians in the playoffs.
The rotation returns three pitchers who finished with double digit wins in Carlos Carrasco (14-12), Danny Salazar (14-10), and Trevor Bauer (11-12). Cody Allen shattered his previous career high with 34 saves last season for the Indians. Bryan Shaw returns for another year to set up Allen as he led the Tribe with 23 holds.
They’ll also feature Corey Kluber, who comes in as the staff ace, but looks to duplicate his Cy Young numbers in 2014. He won 18 games in 2014, but it took until May 13 before he got his first win in 2015. That win was especially sweet for Kluber as he set a career high in strikeouts with 18 and allowed just one Cardinals hit in eight innings of work. If he would have pitched the ninth, he would’ve had a chance to tie the record for most strikeouts in a nine inning game (20) which was done twice by Roger Clemens and once by Kerry Wood. Despite going 9-16, Kluber led the team with 19 quality starts.
The one area the Indians will be looking to fill this spring is in center field after Abraham Almonte was suspended 80 games for PED use. Almonte was already filling a void left by Michael Brantley, who was fourth in the AL in batting average (.310), is recovering from shoulder surgery and could be out until May. Lonnie Chisenhall will play right while Rajai Davis and Collin Cowgill will get a chance to take their place in the outfield this spring.
Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor will get to play their first full season as the Indians double-play duo. Lindor didn’t disappoint in his first 99 games hitting .313 with 38 extra base hits including 12 homers. Kipnis earned his second All-Star nod with a .303 average and 43 doubles. Both players will be throwing to a new first baseman as Mike Napoli comes over from Texas. Napoli struggled at the plate watching his average drop over 20 points, but still managed to hit 18 homers. He’ll probably also split some time with DH Carlos Santana, who had a similar issue with his average (.231), while still leading the team in homers (19) and RBI (85).
Here’s a full look at who the Indians might have on the field when the two meet in mid-May for their annual interstate clash (as of 2/27).
Starting Rotation (2015 stats):
1. Corey Kluber (9-16, 3.49 ERA)
2. Carlos Carrasco (14-12, 3.63 ERA)
3. Danny Salazar (14-10, 3.45 ERA)
4. Trevor Bauer (11-12, 4.55 ERA)
5. Cody Anderson (7-3, 3.05 ERA)
6. Josh Tomlin (7-2, 3.06 ERA)
Closer: Cody Allen (2-5, 2.99 ERA, 34 Saves)
C. Yan Gomes (95 games played, .231 avg, 12 HR, 31 RBI)
1B. Mike Napoli (133 GP, .224 avg, 18 HR, 50 RBI w/Red Sox & Rangers)
2B. Jason Kipnis (141 GP, .303 avg, 9 HR, 52 RBI, All-Star)
3B. Giovanny Urshela (81 GP, .221 avg, 6 HR, 21 RBI)
SS. Francisco Lindor (99 GP, .313 avg, 12 HR, 51 RBI)
LF. Michael Brantley (137 GP, .310 avg, 15 HR, 84 RBI, on DL)
CF. Rajai Davis (112 GP, .258 avg, 8 HR, 30 RBI w/Tigers)
RF. Lonnie Chisenhall (106 GP, .236 avg, 7 HR, 44 RBI)
DH. Carlos Santana (154 GP, .231 avg, 19 HR, 85 RBI)
C. Roberto Perez
IF. Jose Ramirez
OF. Collin Cowgill
OF. Abraham Almonte (on restricted list)