The first month of the season could not have gone much worse for the Indians.
This is the pitfall of hype and hope. Where the eyeballs see the pull of potential, it charms us; seduces us and allows our minds to wander, because it’s so much better to dream big than, well, what we usually find ourselves doing.
Yet, here we are, once again in that cycle of fretting, complaining, staring bleakly into the AL Central abyss. The Tigers are more or less doing what they usually do, which is making our lives miserable by both bombs or a thousand paper cuts, depending on their moods in how they want us to dance for them. That’s bad enough, but making matters worse is how the Royals seem perfectly content in proving that they are not just a cutesy one-year story harkening back to their mid 80s heyday.
The Indians are, right now, a team with a little too little to hang their helmets on.
The bullpen, once a feared “Mafia,” is now more akin to a cowardly informant, with Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw being the ones most apt to give up the goods.
Corey Kluber, who was deserving of every superlative pronouncement last season has been mortal. Part of it is not his fault, but you never want to believe that “the book on him” is rife with cheat codes. When he goes, the Indians go.
(Is Kluber’s admission that there is an adjustment period to Roberto Perez a signal that the trust isn’t there? May the clouds always rain on you, Rajai Davis.)
While some recent lineup reconfiguration has been a short-term spark, it’s easy to take the fatalist route. The promotion of Jason Kipnis to the leadoff spot (and subsequent demotion of a mummifying Michael Bourn to the ninth spot) seems to be a stroke of Francona genius. And yes, Brantley is Brantley. But while those two carry the mail better than most, it still seems as like the lineup is looking for the always-elusive offensive sustainability.
What if a healthy Nick Swisher is that guy? What if he fills that leadership void left behind by Jason Giambi? It’s a lot to ask, but maybe he is that stabilizer. If anything, he’s a matchup problem which makes Ned Yost’s night slightly more difficult.
Terry Francona said that yesterday’s comeback win could be a catalyst towards positive momentum. For a team looking to just string two victories together for the first time since the opening series in Houston, they’ll take whatever boost they can find.
Can Swisher be that glue that finally holds a shaky season together? If The Indians have any hope of making it to a meaningful September and early October, there would be no better time to prove his worth than now.