After losing the 2016 World Series in heartbreaking and agonizing fashion, the Cleveland Indians won 2012 games and set the American League record for longest winning streak, only to blow a 2-0 lead in the ALDS, ending title hopes in a year where it seemed not only realistic, but expected. As the Indians come into Spring Training this month, critics and people outside the clubhouse might ask: how are they going to do it, how can they come back to their level of greatness that they experienced the last two seasons?
The answer is simple: minus Carlos Santana, the whole squad is back for 2018 and more ready than ever.
The Tribe once again expect to have the best starting pitching rotation in the both the American League and the whole league. Ace and two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber is back and healthy and looks to carry the rotation on his back (but also his electric arm). In addition to Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin, and whoever wins the final starting spot (likely Ryan Merritt) all return in 2018 and look to build upon their fantastic and record-setting 2017 season, if that is even possible.
In the field, the Tribe will be without Carlos Santana, who left for a heftier contract to play for the Philadelphia Phillies. To take his place, the Tribe signed first baseman Yonder Alonso, who was most previously with the San Diego Padres and hit 28 home runs. With Alonso taking over at first base, he will accompany the rest of the Indians’ infield that was one of the best in baseball in 2017, featuring All-Stars Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez as well as former All-Star Jason Kipnis.
Also, the Indians’ bullpen matches up with any other team in the league. The deadly duo of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen is arguably the best 1-2 punch in baseball, making the Indians hard to beat if they’re winning after the 7th inning. But the bullpen is more than just Miller and Allen, relievers Dan Otero, Zach McAllister, and Nick Goody all had fairly successful seasons and look to improve upon their 2017 performances in 2018 with the addition of new pitching coach Carl Willis.
As Spring Training gets into full swing, several big names will be looking to crack the big league roster, including Melvin Upton and Rajai Davis, who played for the Tribe in 2016 and hit the game-tying home run in Game 7 of the World Series. The Indians’ 2018 journey officially begins tomorrow with their first Spring Training game taking place against their in-state rival Cincinnati Reds.