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Opponent Preview: Cleveland Indians

Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Play ball!

Just one short sleep remains until baseball will return to Target Field for the summer. The hometown team will be back in town, swinging bats and throwing balls beneath the Minneapolis skyline while the sweet aromas of summer drift through the air. The crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd will echo around the ballpark once again. It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year.

However, I’m not here to talk to you about the hometown team today. Instead, let’s talk about who else gets the privilege of setting foot on the heaven-on-earth known as Target Field: Cleveland.

Cleveland won the AL Central handily last year, posting a record of 91 wins and 71 losses. It was their third consecutive Central title, although it was the worst record they have had during their reign. They were defeated in the ALDS by the Houston Astros.

The off-season was somewhat atypical for Cleveland. Fresh off a third straight division title and showing some cracks, ownership decided the roster was “good enough” for the (admittedly lousy) AL Central. Instead of making moves to strengthen themselves for a playoff run, Cleveland allowed multiple key contributors to walk in free agency, and did next-to-nothing to replace them. They even shopped a couple All-Star pitchers before deciding to keep them. So while they are still the consensus pick for the AL Central title, they are as vulnerable as they have been in years. Let’s take a look at the roster.

Cleveland Roster

Position Name
Position Name
SP Corey Kluber
SP Trevor Bauer
SP Carlos Carrasco
SP Mike Clevenger
SP Shane Bieber
RP Brad Hand
RP Adam Cimber
RP Dan Otero
RP Tyler Olson
RP Neil Ramirez
RP Oliver Perez
RP Jon Edwards
C Roberto Perez
C Kevin Plawecki
1B/DH Carlos Santana
1B/OF Jake Bauers
2B Max Moroff
2B Brad Miller
SS Eric Stamets
SS Francisco Lindor (Injured)
3B Jose Ramirez
OF Greg Allen
OF Jordan Luplow
OF Leonys Martin
OF Tyler Naquin
OF Bradley Zimmer (Injured)

It’s safe to say that the Cleveland rotation is no less dazzling than it has been in recent years. Their top four starters all cracked 200 K’s last year, and none of them are over the hill yet. However, the ‘pen is the weakest it’s been recently, even after replacing Cody Allen and Andrew Miller with Brad Hand. Cleveland still has All-World infielders Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, but they lost key contributors Yan Gomes and Yonder Alonso at catcher and first. In order to offset these losses, they picked up an aging Carlos Santana. Not to mention, Lindor, Ramirez, and Jason Kipnis are all battling injuries to begin the season (Lindor and Kipnis will definitely be out for this series). And then there’s the outfield. Cleveland has an injured Bradley Zimmer and a bunch of unproven guys (some young and some not) trying to fill the void left by the departed Melky Cabrera and Michael Brantley.

In summary, the Cleveland starting pitchers are a force to be reckoned with, but there are definite cracks showing in the foundation of the team. The outfield and bullpen are the weakest they’ve been in years, and the infield is battered. Even Lindor could be gone before long. But the question remains: can anyone hit their starting pitching?

Pitching Matchups

Thursday, March 28th, 3:10 PM CDT

José Berríos vs. Corey Kluber

Saturday, March 30th, 1:10 CDT

Jake Odorizzi vs. Trevor Bauer

Sunday, March 31st, 1:10 CDT

Michael Pineda vs. Carlos Carrasco


How many games will the Twins win in the opening series?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Zero. I’m a huge pessimist.
    (13 votes)
  • 25%
    (66 votes)
  • 53%
    (138 votes)
  • 15%
    Three! We’re better than Cleveland!
    (40 votes)
257 votes total Vote Now