When someone comes bearing good and bad news, he or she always asks which you’d like to hear first. I’ve always considered it wise to ask for the bad news to come first so you have the good news to cheer you up. For that reason, I present you with my list of the good, the bad, and the ugly for the Indians’ first half—but in reverse order.
- Hitting with runners in scoring position.
Last year was full of fireworks. The Indians dugout seemed to be full of a “never say die” sort of attitude. It was the year of the walk-off, of a certain kind of magic back to Progressive Field that had been missing since the late 90’s. The excitement was heightened by the “What if?” commercials and videos touted by the Indians front office. Well I have a question: what if the Indians hit with runners in scoring position?
The Indians have gotten their fair share of opportunities this year; they just haven’t capitalized on them. Undoubtedly, they would have a much better chance at making the playoffs if they could do some damage with runners on second and third. On multiple occasions, the Indians have found themselves with the bases loaded and no outs, yet they have failed to push even one runner across the plate. That’s a concerning trend that is perpetuated by the weak bottom half of the lineup. I have little faith when anybody other than Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera or Michael Brantley comes up to the plate.
- No aces.
The Indians don’t have an ace. They have pitchers that have pitched like aces in the past, but they don’t have one doing it this season. Each member of the starting rotation goes through cycles, pitching like an ace every few weeks or so, but none of them do every time they step on the mound. That’s something that needs to be addressed before the trade deadline.
Having at least one consistent pitcher would put the Tribe in a significantly better position than the one they’re in now. Think back to last season when Justin Masterson pitched his heart out every game. He didn’t always get the win because the offense wasn’t backing him up, but you knew you could count on him to give the Indians every chance to win. He hasn’t consistently pitched that way this season. We see it on occasion, but not often enough.
Even if the current rotation can carry the Tribe to the end of the season and leave them in contention, the team would never last long in the playoffs. The playoffs are all about pitching, and right now the Indians staff hasn’t pitched well enough to put themselves in a good position if they could make it to that point.