With one month of the season behind us, the Indians currently find themselves sitting in fourth place in the AL Central with a record of 12 wins and 13 losses. As their record indicates, it was a month of ups and downs. At times the inconsistency was maddening. However, heading into May the Indians have one four in a row and appear to be turning the corner. With that said, I asked our staff what they thought of the Indians so far and whether or not they have met their expectations in this week’s Wroundtable discussion. Here’s what they had to say.
Evan Vogel: After one month, the Indians are right in line with where I expected them to be, while I hold a little less confidence in them going forward. The starting pitching has been pretty brutal outside of Justin Masterson and Zach McAllister. While I expected McAllister to have a bit of consistency in his role as the No.4 starter, the rest of the rotation was a huge question mark. The club really needed solid performances out of Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez to take a large step forward. While Jimenez was very impressive on Monday night, he continues to be a bag of White Castle cheeseburgers (potential to be good, but more likely resulting in several trips to the bathroom).
The Indians pitching depth has really been tested, and injuries to Kazmir, Matsuzaka, Carrasco (in the minors), and Myers have led to further fishing within the system.
Until they get consistent production from Jimenez and whoever else is healthy and pitching beyond Masterson and McAllister, I will be short on confidence with this club. They have a very impressive offensive club, but there will be many nights where they just can’t outscore the other team.
Merritt Rohlfing: Being as recklessly confident as I typically am, I’m almost disappointed in the Indians at this point. That’s a stupid thing to think though, because they’ve been awesome and even if they’re not having the type of April they’ve had the last couple years, I’d rather they not have the type of second half they’ve had the last couple years either. I like what I see out of the newbies, especially Mark Reynolds, who has filled the place in my heart Adam Dunn vacated when he was stolen by aliens and replaced by a pile of garbage.
The Indians have every chance of getting shut out and possibly no-hit every night, because so many of them strike out, but because they’re all so streaky and seem to hop on each other’s bandwagon they could just as easily put 13 on the board (YES!). We’ve seen this already, several times this year. Besides the regulars, guys like Ryan Raburn and Jason Giambi are great for the whole platoon thing, and as Ed has said time and again until I tell him to stop but he doesn’t, we’ve found that right-handed hitters are great. So yeah, I’m pretty jacked about this team – they’re fun, they seem to like each other, and they clobber the ball. I’ve seen this thing called “pitching” lately too, we’ll watch closely to see if this phenomenon hangs around.
Brian Heise: Even though I was fully aware of the issues surrounding this team, my blatant homerism and denial of such things led me to think the Indians were probably better than they really were heading into the season. As is the case, logic is winning out right now. The pitching has had all sorts of issues and the Indians streakiness offensively has led to many a frustrating night. However, because this team is so streaky, they are capable of ridiculous stretches of offensive production. Like say, outscoring the opposition 39-5 over four games. That has been pretty awesome. But that’s the thing. Because I know what they’re capable of and haven’t seen enough of it, the Tribe hasn’t quite met my expectations. I am beginning to grow a bit more confident, though.
Ed Carroll: I had slightly more confidence in this team than during the preseason, but honestly it’s not much more. The offense has started to turn on, even without guys such as Jason Kipnis or, until recently, Asdrubal Cabrera producing. And I’m certainly not labeling Michael Bourn a bust after a mont, but due to the injury he hasn’t even had much of a chance to contribute yet. But this team will only go as far as its rotation takes it, and although the depth of the team’s starting pitching is being tested with an injury to Brett Myers and a silly suspension to Carlos Carrasco, the starters are showing some fight. Stop me if you’ve heard this, but Ubaldo Jimenez is the key to this season. If he’s as dominant as he was Monday then this team has a real shot at making this division interesting. If he isn’t, I’m a lot less confident.
Katrina Putnam: I was pretty confident in the Indians to start with, and it really hasn’t changed. They have a solid lineup and a deep bullpen, and the rotation has been better than expected. Masterson and McAllister are pitching extremely well and it’s nearly impossible to score off of most of the relievers. Reynolds and Raburn will probably cool off eventually, but there’s still a lot to love about the team’s offense. It definitely looks like the Tribe has a chance to contend this year.
Nick Houghtaling: I am somehow more confident in the Indians than I was a month ago. I think there’s so much potential in the offense this year that it will carry the team to a lot of victories. The pitching staff still needs work, but this team finally seems to be able to put up runs (and hit home runs, thankfully). Who knows how they’ll be playing in a few months, but for right now I’m definitely optimistic.