Indians Use Addition By Subtraction In Playoff Push

by Gordon Watkin | Posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2015
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Not only did Cleveland acquire two productive players at the deadline, but the subtraction of Swisher and Bourn have allowed for productive platoons to emerge.

The Indians have been on a torrid 22-12 pace in their last 34 games, and are making strong consideration to sneak in, once again, as an American League wildcard contender. It appears to be a perennial trend where the Tribe play mediocre, inconsistent baseball, than string it all together to make each and every summer conclusion an amusing and event-filled one. The starting rotation has been effective all season, and has produced amongst the most strikeouts in the majors, while the Indians mediocre bullpen is actually utilized the amongst the least in the game. This correlation may explain a lot about the overall competitiveness of the ball club this season compared to last, as the bullpen was often over utilized and its ineffectiveness was often exposed.

The key for Cleveland to start winning baseball games certainly is predicated upon the ball club’s ability to hit in conjunction with the teams solid pitching performances. Since the departure of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, the Tribe have looked rejuvenated, competitive, organized and determined to carry out business on a nightly basis. When over $100 Million are invested by a small-market baseball club, the pressure exists for a manager to play a respective player out of sheer obligation, regardless of performance. This was frequently displayed as Bourn and his ineffective approach at the plate was trotted out daily, where average skills were displayed with little effectiveness at the top of the Indians’ order. Swisher and his enigmatic personality was brought into the Tribe clubhouse to provide a consummate professional approach to the game, with structure for some of Cleveland’s budding young stars. What evidently happened was a persistent passive aggression, as Swisher supposedly identified himself as the “leader” despite struggling statistically on both sides of the baseball. This inability to produce and lead by example, actually detracted from the club, and debilitated other players to the point of discouragement; completely saturating the will to win and compete level of the entire roster.

Knowing the aforementioned information, it does not come as a surprise that the Tribe have thrived because of newcomers Abraham Almonte and Chris Johnson, the recalled Francisco Lindor, and a surprisingly dominant Josh Tomlin. These four players have been truly catalytic in the Tribe regaining their preseason praise as being World Series contenders, and the team appears to not be slowing any time soon. Corey Kluber is due to return, Carlos Carrasco has recently returned and Lindor appears to just keep hitting at a pace, dare I say it, of a silver slugger.

The value in Johnson and Almonte respectively is evident statistically AND to the naked eye, as both players have demonstrated solid work ethic, a professional approach at the plate, and have been remarkably productive. Johnson in particular is slashing 367/.380/.449, and has made an excellent platoon with young defensive specialist Giovanny Urshela. The real addition may exist with the departure of the embattled Swisher and Bourn, who left vacancies being filled with productive platoons. Another pleasant surprise has been the emergence of Lonnie Chisenhall as a right fielder, something not plausible while Swisher, Moss or Bourn were on the roster. In fact, Chisenhall ranks amongst the highest WAR players on the roster despite minimal playing time this season. This team is ready to compete now, and is finally seeing consistency on offence to correlate with elite level pitching. The two in conjunction with one another may make Cleveland a formidable playoff dark horse as the season unwinds further.

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Gordon Watkin
About the Author

Gordon is a Sport Management graduate from Brock University. He has a background playing professional soccer, but is an avid sports fan particularly of the Cleveland Indians. Follow Gordon on Twitter @GordonWatkin.

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