On Tuesday afternoon, the Indians took on the Seattle Mariners in Goodyear, as Trevor Bauer got his first start of the spring. On Wednesday afternoon, the Indians traveled to Mesa to play the Chicago Cubs, as Corey Kluber squared off against Jake Arrieta. A marquis pitching match-up of Cy Young-caliber players, that would unfortunately only pitch for 2-3 innings since it’s spring training. Here are a few thoughts from the past two days.
- Bauer had a decent outing; the first and third innings went well for him, but he gave up a run on a walk, single, and sacrifice fly during the second. I really think one of the last two spots in the rotation is his to lose at this point. At the same time, I don’t think the Indians are going to sit back and let him struggle and “find his way through it” once the season starts…he’ll probably have a relatively short leash.
- Speaking of pitchers that could make a difference in 2016, I’m intrigued by Mike Clevinger. Acquired from the Angels in the Vinnie Pestano trade in 2014, the 25-year-old spent 2015 with the Double-A Akron Rubber Ducks. While I don’t think this is someone that will break camp with the team at the end of the month, if anyone has an injury or performance issues, we could end up seeing Clevinger before the season is over. I think that one of the final spots in the rotation will go to Josh Tomlin; the Indians seem to prefer him, plus he just signed that two-year deal during the offseason.
- A few of the guys up for open bullpen spots pitched on Tuesday, like Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Thatcher, and Dan Otero. I honestly don’t trust Gorzelanny that much on the mound, but he’s looked fine so far this spring. Thatcher and Otero were burned by some defensive miscues (obviously, after I praised the defense).
- Offensively, the Indians had good days from Jose Ramirez (2-for-3 with 1 RBI) and Mike Napoli (2-for-3 with 1 RBI).
- Not that there’s much score watching in spring training, but the Indians defeated the Mariners 4-3 as Bryan Shaw hung on for the save.
- The Cubs’ newish field, Sloan Park, is very nice and also kind of ridiculous. It sells out almost daily, and there were more than 15,000 people in attendance for a Wednesday afternoon spring training game between the Cubs and Indians. The crowds and the chaos are less enjoyable after a day at the more sparsely attended Goodyear Ballpark.
- Even though it’s early March and there were only a few innings of Corey Kluber and Jake Arrieta, they looked much like the Kluber and Arrieta that we know and love. Neither offense had much success at all until both left the game. Some of Kluber’s stuff already looked downright nasty, and he fooled quite a few Cubs hitters.
- The ball really seemed to be flying out to left field today, even though there there wasn’t that much wind. Both Yan Gomes and Geovanny Urshela hit home runs, while Erik Gonzalez went 2-for-3.
- Tyler Naquin went 1-for-3 in Mesa today, which brings his spring average to .444. I’ve always viewed Naquin as a fourth outfielder; someone like Trevor Crowe who had speed and defensive skills, but was never able to stick in the major leagues. However, despite his injuries he’s been a pleasant surprise to me as he’s moved through the minors. He’s having a great spring so far, and is likely in the running for one of those vacant outfield spots.
- Until the ninth inning, the combination of Kluber, Josh Tomlin, Ross Detwiler, Adam Plutko, and Felipe Paulino held the Cubs to just one earned run on three hits. (The run was a solo homer given up by Tomlin). Paulino had trouble finding the strike zone during the eighth inning, but still managed to get out of the inning unscathed. Kyle Crockett surrendered two unearned runs in the ninth inning, after an error by Yandy Diaz allowed the final out of the game to reach base. Crockett then surrendered a two-run homer. The Indians managed to hang on for a 5-3 win though.
Here are a few pictures from the past two days: