For the Cleveland Indians, this season has been a tale of two months.
There was April, a time where wins were few, blunders were plenty, and run support for ace Corey Kluber was merely just a fun concept which never actually came to fruition.
After this came May, where the Tribe started turning things around, the starting rotation became a top-ten unit and Jason Kipnis went scorched earth on any and all opposing pitchers.
The first month was full of losses, the next had many more victories. And yet, in mid-June, Cleveland is still just barely out of the AL Central cellar. The Indians sit eight games out of first place, and still have yet to find any sort of consistency. The high offseason expectations still hang over the club as fans wait to see when this sleeper contender is actually going to wake up for good.
One move the team had been expected to make at some point this season — one which people saw as a potential turning point — was the call-up of top prospect Francisco Lindor. #FreeLindor has been running wild on Twitter for over a year now, and last weekend, the move was finally made.
Lindor, along with hot-hitting Giovanny Urshela, are now up in the big leagues. The temptation to make these moves permeated through the first two months of the Indians’ season. Now that these two are part of the team, it’s time for Cleveland to go on a run.
The call-ups of Urshela and Lindor not only fulfill hype, they plug two of the biggest holes in the Indians’ roster. The two players these prospects replace were doing more harm than good, and certainly weren’t helping Cleveland’s attempts to win consistently.
Lonnie Chisenhall, who’s never really been able to provide long-term reliability, was just not getting it done at third base. Despite some solid nights of hitting here and there, Chisenhall’s paltry .209 batting average was quite a liability. Additionally, he had the second-most errors on the team. For a club which has continued to shoot itself in the foot thanks to poor fielding, this wasn’t exactly what it needed.
The only player with more errors, shortstop Jose Ramirez, had been flirting with demotion for some time now. Knowing Lindor was vying for his job, Ramirez struggled often this year. He made multiple mishaps in the field, and his .180 batting average didn’t exactly make up for this. With a highly anticipated prospect in the wings, it was only a matter of time before Ramirez was sent down.
So, with he and Chisenhall officially replaced, with Lindor and Urshela taking their rightful place in Cleveland’s infield, there are no more pending items on the agenda. It’s time for this roster to start living up to its full potential.
This team has shown what it can do when everything is clicking. The pitching has, for the most part, held its own and put the Indians in a position to win more often than not. It’s the hitting and fielding which have often contributed to more losses than wins. When both of these factors are performing well, Cleveland becomes the team everyone thought they’d be coming into the season.
Chisenhall and Ramirez were both big reasons why the Indians ran into both defensive and offensive troubles. Now that they’ve been replaced by better players, it’s not too lofty to expect the Tribe to start getting its act together. To start hitting more, to start fielding better. And, hopefully come Monday, to stop getting murdered by the Detroit Tigers every time the two teams meet.
There are no more questions of “when is so-and-so coming up?” No more starters worrying about whether or not they will be replaced. This team is now set up the way everyone anticipated it would be when the season started. Because of this, the Indians now need to start focusing on the task at hand and become the team contender that was advertised.