The Cleveland Indians‘ offense sputtered again over the weekend, resulting in a sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants. The Tribe managed just five runs in three games against the Giants, putting their average runs per game just below four for the season. Things don’t look good for the Indians right now, but Terry Francona will most likely stick with the current lineup and hope his hitters work through their slumps.
A similar situation occurred last year when Jason Kipnis got off to a dreadful start, hitting only .200 in the month of April. But Francona stuck with his All-Star second baseman, continually putting him in the two or three hole each game during his slump. Francona’s patience was rewarded, as Kipnis hit .318 over the next two months and ultimately ended with a .284 batting average for the year. Expect Francona to do the same thing with his slumping hitters this year in order to show that he is confident in each player’s ability.
Another reason it’s doubtful that the Tribe skipper shakes things up is that he likes to mix up left and right-handed hitters in his lineups. This helps late in games when pitcher-hitter match-ups become crucial, as opposing managers would have to continually switch relievers to gain the pitching advantage. And since Francona’s current lineup alternates between left and right-handed hitters just about perfectly (with a few switch hitters mixed in), don’t look for Francona to change that any time soon even with the slumping players hitting toward the top of the lineup.
It may seem ill-advised to keep playing guys who aren’t swinging the bats well, but it is still too soon to make any drastic changes. All hitters go through dry spells at some point in their careers, and the only way through it is to keep playing.