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.
|SS||Francisco Lindor (Injured)|
|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?
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
Zero. I’m a huge pessimist.
Three! We’re better than Cleveland!