Team Strengths: Cleveland built the American League’s top rotation by obtaining Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger as prospects, and now there are homegrown arms to supplement them. Shane Bieber has ably stepped in with Danny Salazar addled by accidents, and No. 1 possibility Triston McKenzie may debut in 2019.
Team Weaknesses: Tyler Naquin and Bradley Zimmer haven’t developed as hoped, leaving the Indians perilously short in the outfield. The team is now even milder after Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall departed in free service. A bullpen that had the majors’ fifth-worst ERA was also depleted Cody Allen and by Andrew Miller leaving.
They Did About ItThe Indians substituted Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso at designated hitter and first base, respectively, with Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers, but that didn’t address the team’s primary shortcomings. Jordan Luplow and Daniel Johnson were their sole outfield additions, and Nick Wittgren was their sole bullpen addition not on a minor league deal.
Final Outlook: The Indians are more vulnerable than they have been in years, particularly if Francisco Lindor’s calf injury lingers. Still, the general weakness of the AL Central nevertheless makes them the favorite for a fourth consecutive division title.
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