There are eight million stories in the naked city and about 2.2 million in Greater Cleveland. On the Indians’ 2015 squad, there are maybe 40-50. Here are a few of the more compelling stories for the second half of the Indians’ 2015 season.
The evolution of Francisco Lindor and Giovanny Urshela
I can’t recall the last time a prospect arrived with the amount of hype and expectation that surrounded Francisco Lindor’s promotion to the big league team. People have been watching and drooling over him since the Indians picked him in the 1st round (8th overall) of the 2011 draft (when he was but a lad of 17). In all the hoopla about Lindor, it’s easy to forget that the 23-year-old Urshela made his major league debut only five days before Lindor did. They’re both making their presence known in the lineup. They have a ways to go defensively–Lindor has made 4 errors in 221 big league innings and Urshela has made 2 errors in 260 innings. Hitting-wise, they’re holding their own. Out of curiosity, I looked at a few other highly touted prospects who were called up in June, Carlos Santana and Lonnie Chisenhall. Both of them came on strong then had a drop in production (particularly Santana) the second half of their respective rookie seasons.
debut June 11, 2010
debut June 27, 2011
debut June 9, 2015
debut June 14, 2015
There’s one other mid-season call-up that I looked at, Jason Kipnis, who made his debut July 22, 2011. I had to look at his stats by month, not by half. He essentially came on with a bang (remember he only played a week in July) and also had a drop off in production–to a level that was roughly equal to Chisenhall’s “strong” start. Kipsnis’ line, month-by-month, for his rookie season:
July: .136 / .208 / .318
August: .348 / .412 / .739
Sept/Oct: .265 / .320 / .412
Lindor and Urshela both have respectable lines for new call-ups, especially because they were looked at more as defensive upgrades. I’m curious to see how they’ll evolve. It’s almost inevitable that they’ll have a drop in production–everybody does. Will they be Chisenhalls (no offense to Lonnie, but please no) or Kipnises (Kipnii?).
How do you solve a problem like Nick Swisher?
Sooner or later, the Indians are going to have to take Nick Swisher off the disabled list. He isn’t Jason Giambi Rebooted. He can’t spend 90% of the season on the DL acting as the clubhouse Yoda, imparting wisdom to the younger players. His contract is too big to keep him out of the lineup. When he does come back, who goes? Right before the break, Mike Aviles went on the family emergency leave list and the Tribe brought Jose Ramirez back up from AAA Columbus. Hopefully, Aviles will be back soon (and double hoping that his daughter will be okay). We need Urshela and Lindor’s gloves. Ryan Raburn and David Murphy are currently #2 and #3 among Indians hitters. Do you send down the guy who’s leading the team in home runs (Brandon Moss?) or the guy you’re paying $13.5 million to this year (Michael Bourn)? My guess: Nick stays on the DL for most of August and comes back when the roster expands in September. Another possibility, as Stephanie suggested, is we try to trade him.
Will Corey Kluber ever get run support again?
The Indians offensive anemia seemingly every time Kluber pitches has gone from “What a coincidence” to “What the hell is going on?” Kluber ranks 50th–dead last–in the American League in run support with 2.32 runs per start. This feeds into the larger question of the lack scoring. Cleveland currently ranks 12th in the AL in runs scored with 347. The Tribe is also 12th in the AL (tied with Texas) with a .230 batting average with runners in scoring position and last in batting average with bases loaded (.154). Here’s one thought: they have to start scoring against right-handed pitchers. They lead the league in runs scored against lefties (135) and are last in runs scored against right-handed pitchers (212). With a lefty-heavy lineup, this has been an issue for several years, but the disparity in scoring seems particularly sharp this season.
The Indians start the second half on Friday, July 17th at 7:10 against the Reds at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. Trevor Bauer will make the start for Cleveland against Mike Leake.