The Indians are heading into June with a record of 32-20 and a 5 game lead in the American League Central. It is not where many imagined the team to be at after May, especially after the last few years. The Indians are usually in the bottom of the division by now, but they are currently in the driver’s seat in 2011.
The reason for the team’s success is not due to a single player. It has to do with a solid combination of great pitching and offense. If the pitching is struggling, the offense seems to pick up the slack and vice versa.
The injuries to Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner could have easily hurt the offensive performance of the team, but guys like Travis Buck, Shelley Duncan, and even Ezequiel Carrera have stepped up in big spots. It is just one of those years where every single player on the roster has contributed to the team’s success.
The best offensive player by far is Asdrubal Cabrera. He is hitting .298 which leads the team, (Travis Hafner is hitting .345, but he has only played in 32 games this season). He has a team leading 10 home runs and 35 RBI. Besides his great offense, he is also a defensive asset. He can always be counted on to make the routine play, and sometimes can make a ridiculous play seem easy.
A main issuethus far comes from the starting rotation. Guys like Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin have been doing outstanding, 5-3 and 6-2 respectively. The problem comes from presumed #1 Fausto Carmona. He has never returned to his 2007 form and is currently 3-6 on the year with a 5.31 ERA. If the Indians are going to make a serious run at the playoffs, they need Fausto to start pitching better. If he doesn’t he could see himself out of the starting rotation if the Indians were to make the playoffs.
The bullpen has been solid all year long. Chris Perez has anchored the bullpen completing14 saves in 15 tries. He is given a chance to save these games after the setup guys come in and shut down the opposition. These guys include Tony Sipp, Vinnie Pestano, Joe Smith, and Rafael Perez. They have donned themselves the “bullpen mafia” and none of them have an ERA over 1.88. A strong bullpen is very important, especially with the sometimes inconsistent starting rotation.
The Tribe went 18-8 in April and 14-12 in May. If they can continue to finish each month a few game over .500 or even at .500, they should easily win the AL Central.