As the Indians season roles along into the All-Star break, everyone can see that the bats have come alive. While on this 7 game win streak, the Indians have outscored their opponents 54-9, and have also managed to pitch two shutouts. Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley have hit well all year, but players like Edwin Encarnacion, Lonnie Chisenhall, Tyler Naquin, Yan Gomes, and even Jason Kipnis have started to swing the bat much better. Then on the mound, the starting rotation of Kluber, Bauer, Clevinger, and Carrasco have been unhittable this year. For the most part, you expected this out of the core players on the 25-man roster, but there’s not one person who saw this coming from Adam Plutko and Shane Bieber.
Image: (Chuck Crow: Cleveland.com)
With Josh Tomlin becoming a human dumpster fire this year, and Carlos Carrasco running into some injury problems, the Tribe was forced to go into their AAA starters for some help, and they’ve gotten more than what they bargained for. When the Indians first called up Adam Plutko for an emergency start against the Toronto Blue Jays in early May, expectations were low. The Indians were on the back-half of an already delayed double-header, and the Blue Jays offense was clicking after the first game where they scored over 10 runs. Well, Plutko came out and dominated. He rolled through 7.2 innings of work, striking out 6, and more importantly only gave up 3 runs, and the Indians got the win. Since then, Plutko has gone out there and ate up innings for the Tribe. He made 5 starts and has a 4-1 record with a 4.65 ERA. Even though he’s had two rough starts, he’s kept the Tribe in every game, not to mention a great start this past Sunday against the Tigers (6IP, 6H, 2ER).
Image: (Joshua Gunter: Cleveland.com)
Plutko hasn’t been the only stud this year for the Indians. Rookie starter, Shane Bieber, has looked like a bona fide ace. Okay, he’s only made three starts but they were REALLY good starts. Through his short stint in the majors, Bieber holds a 2.45 ERA, and each consecutive turn in the rotation has looked even better for this young man. In his most recent start versus the Detroit Tigers, his curveball looked like one of the best on the team, and that’s saying something. Bieber just so happens to be on a team with Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. Those guys are 2018 CY Young Award candidates, and just so happen to be 7th and 2nd in total strikeouts this year. As long as Bieber keeps his offspeed stuff down below the knees, he will kill hitters with his fastballs upstairs that touch 94 MPH.
The Tribe have once again been “graced” with the injury bug this year. Pitchers, Danny Salazar and Ryan Merritt, will most likely miss this entire season, and Carlos Carrasco has continued to make trip after trip to the DL. Tito Francona has done magical work with the starting rotation, continually finding new guys to dominate when given the opportunity. I have no idea what Tito puts in their gatorade, but it must be working.
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