Realistic Expectations for Cleveland Indians Second Half
At 48-46, the Indians are hoping to turn things around in a final couple of months of the season and push for the playoffs. However, anything beyond the second Wild Card seems highly unlikely, as the White Sox continue to run away with the American League Central.
So what can Cleveland fans expect for the remainder of the year? Here are a few realistic expectations.
The Rotation Gets a Boost
The starting rotation for the Indians was their biggest strength early; however, injuries sidetracked the season. But soon, the Tribe should have two of their best starting pitchers, including last year’s Cy Young winner, joining them down the stretch.
Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale are both expected to return at some point. Bieber, whose last start came on June 13, has resumed throwing this week, a first since going onto the injured list. Civale might be a little closer to coming back, where after spraining his right middle finger on June 21 is close to throwing a bullpen session before beginning a rehab assignment.
Despite both of these pitchers being out for the past month, they lead the team with over 90 innings pitched each, with Cal Quantrill the next-highest at just under 73 innings. Civale and Bieber are also still atop the strikeout list, with Bieber punching out a whopping 130 batters before his injury.
The point being, when one or both of these pitchers return, a rotation that has lacked some punch will get the boost they need to help them contend for a playoff spot.
Bobby Bradley Finishes Strong
In desperate need of an offensive jolt, the Indians called up first baseman Bobby Bradley. In his first taste of big-league action since 2019, Bradley cranked eight homers in June and earned an OPS of .954.
However, July has seen him regress quite a bit. Bradley has just one lone hit, a single, since the All-Star break ended, dropping his average from .240 to .208. His OPS for the month is a dismal .620, mostly due to the lack of power he’s had with only two homers.
Bradley is a very streaky hitter and one who will never have a high batting average. But the power has been there in the minors, dating back to his 33-home run season in 107 games with Triple-A Columbus in 2019. He also clubbed nine homers in 26 games this year in the minors before getting his big league call-up.
Fans can expect to see Bradley’s power return at the major league level soon, as he aims to prove why he is the Tribe’s first baseman of the future.
The Indians are More Seller Than Buyer
While the playoffs seem nice, the reality is that the Indians are nine games back in the division and six back in the Wild Card. Barring collapses from several teams; it appears that Cleveland will be watching the playoffs from home this year.
That being said, it’s more likely that a couple of key players currently on the roster are dealt between now and July 30 in a continuing effort to build for the future. It could be someone like outfielder Eddie Rosario, whose deal expires after the season; however, the veteran is currently sidelined with an abdominal strain. Certainly, veterans like second baseman Cesar Hernandez and reliever Bryan Shaw will also be talked about as potential trade chips.
However, would Cleveland deal someone with years of control in order to gain a significant haul in return? Perhaps reliever James Karinchak or shortstop Amed Rosario makes sense. However, it’s hard to see them going crazy with trades of either Bieber or Jose Ramirez, at least until the offseason.
The Indians knew this was likely going to be a year in which they didn’t contend, so expect to see a couple of players sent packing in the next week.
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