By Joe Cooper @joeRantSports on March 25, 2014
The Cleveland Indians enter 2014 with aspirations of going to the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1998-99. Featuring a strong core and a deep bullpen, Cleveland has its eye on a playoff spot come October. There remains a handful of question marks surrounding the team drawing spotty criticism this offseason.
In spite of there being no timetable for the 23-year-old, the panic meter on Trevor Bauer is inching higher with every spring he fails to make the rotation. Bauer’s pitching control was and continues to be a major flaw in his game both in his four spot starts in the majors and with the Columbus Clippers in 2013. Controlling his four-seam fastball, hitting up to 96 mph this spring, is the key to his success going forward.
Coming into the 2013 season, Vinnie Pestano was set to build off of his impressive 2012 campaign. An invite to play on the USA team in the World Baseball Classic proved how productive he was in the previous season. Dealing with elbow inflammation, Pestano was limited to just 35.1 total innings, sporting an earned run average of 4.08. In 6.1 innings of work this spring (heading into today), Pestano has allowed five earned runs.
If Carlos Carrasco wins the fifth rotation spot in the Indians staff, it won’t be because he stood out from the pack. Manager Terry Francona may place Carrasco in the rotation in April over Josh Tomlin because a jump from AAA to Cleveland if needed is not a role that suits him. Just like in seasons past, the 6-foot-3 right-hander has a tendency to overthrow, lacking a secondary pitch to rely on.
Announced earlier today by Terry Francona, Lonnie Chisenhall has lost the third-base battle to the switch-hitting Carlos Santana. Much like 2013, this spring Chisenhall has been scuffling in the field far too often to have placed him at the short corner on opening day. The 25-year-old has been given plenty of “last chance” opportunities to flip the script. He will need to take full advantage of the days Santana is placed at catcher or DH.
The two-time All-Star selectee has been on a steady decline since posting a 4.8 WAR in 2011. Cabrera’s plate discipline numbers plummeted in 2013 as he swung at 34.4 percent of pitches outside the strike zone. With highly-touted prospect Francisco Lindor knocking on the door of the majors, along with a capable Mike Aviles down the dugout, Cabrera needs improve on both ends of the diamond as he is commanding million in 2014.
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