While the offseason has been historically slow and the winter has crawled along at an even slower pace, we at Did The Tribe Win Last Night look ahead to the warmer days of the 2018 season by remembering Tribe players past and present.
Countdown to Opening Day – 31 days
It’s a new year, but the same old questions remain about the Tribe’s number 31, Danny Salazar.
The Cleveland Indians checked off a few more boxes from their offseason to-do list on Friday when the club came to agreements on one-year contracts with arbitration eligible players Zach McAllister, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Danny Salazar.
The trio of Tribe mainstays joined closer Cody Allen in taking care of a contract for the 2018 season, leaving only starting pitcher Trevor Bauer’s status up in the air as the team prepares to pack up for the trip to Goodyear, Arizona, for the start of spring training in just over a month.
With the start of the new year, the Cleveland Indians still have plenty of questions that need resolution before the start of the 2018 campaign. Most should work themselves out by the end of spring training, but in the meantime, one can only ponder how things will be answered.
During the first half of the 2016 season, it seemed Danny Salazar was headed toward being an important fixture in the Cleveland Indians rotation for some years to come.
That first half, marred only by what seemed to be a minor forearm injury during the final weekend before the All-Star break, was one to behold for Salazar. He went into the break with a 10-3 record and 2.75 ERA. His breakout performance earned him a spot on the American League All-Star squad. He was a big reason the Indians were in first place and dreaming of big things ahead.
Those 2016 Indians did reach big things once play resumed after the Midsummer Classic. However, they did a lot of it without the All-Star hurler. By the time the team was playing in that year’s World Series, Salazar was reduced to a reliever, mostly in a spectator’s role.
The Cleveland Indians checked off another box on the offseason to-do list on Friday when it signed two players to one-year contracts and tendered contracts to their remaining five arbitration eligible players on the roster.
Reliever Dan Otero and outfielder Abraham Almonte each agreed to one-year contracts with the Indians to avoid arbitration. The Indians also tendered offers to pitchers Cody Allen, Trevor Bauer, Zach McAllister, and Danny Salazar as well as outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall.
The clock is ticking loudly around Major League Baseball as teams have until Friday night (8 PM ET) to decide whether or not to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players.
The decisions for the Cleveland Indians may be fairly easy this year, but keeping all seven of their arbitration-eligible players will shrink what little financial wiggle room the organization has all the more.
The Indians set a franchise record for salary spent last season, and with a significant amount of money due to returning players already because of the way many of the existing contracts on the roster are structured, Cleveland is already on the brink of equaling last season’s payroll, and that includes money subtracted by the culmination of the contracts of Jay Bruce, Carlos Santana, Bryan Shaw, and other free agents following the 2017 season.
Danny Salazar made his case for a role on the Indians’ postseason roster with four and two-thirds innings of strong starting pitching and the Cleveland bats provided just enough offense as the Tribe held on for a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night
The Indians (99-59) held off the Twins offense one night after it erupted for 17 hits against the Tribe pitching staff. With a chance to secure an on-the-field celebration of a trip to the 2017 playoffs, the Twins instead had to postpone their party for several hours until the Los Angeles Angels fell 6-4 in extra innings to the Chicago White Sox, punching Minnesota’s postseason ticket.
This week’s series between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins from Progressive Field has a brand new meaning as the surprise Twins look to lock up the second American League Wild Card spot and a possible first round matchup with the Indians in the ALDS.
The Indians (98-58) will look to prevent the Twins (82-74) from celebrating on their home field, but it may all be just delaying the inevitable. Minnesota comes into play on Tuesday night with a five-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the final playoff spot still available on the junior circuit side of the Major League Baseball landscape. Minnesota is coming off of a sweep of the Detroit Tigers, dropping its magic number to clinch a playoff spot to two games.
Those big league managers make the big bucks for a reason.
Cleveland’s Terry Francona has an important week ahead of him, even if the club has nearly locked up home field advantage on the American League side of the playoff bracket. While the team continues to win on the field, victors of 29 of its last 31 contests, the roster is no certainty for the veteran skipper, who is going to have some difficult decisions to make with his coaching staff before the start of postseason play next week.
Edwin Encarnacion and Francisco Lindor each homered and the Cleveland relief corps handled the rest on Thursday as the Indians completed the three-game sweep in Anaheim of the Los Angeles Angels, 4-1.
It was a “bullpen day” kind of effort on the mound for the Indians (96-57), who used six different pitchers to wrap up the season series sweep of the Angels while remaining a game in back of the neighbor Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in all of baseball. The win increased the Indians’ club record for consecutive road wins to 14 in a row while putting the Tribe at a 27-1 mark in its last 28 games. That feat has been accomplished just three times in Major League Baseball history.
After a well deserved day off, the Cleveland Indians will get back to action across the country as the Los Angeles Angels host the top team in the American League from their home in Anaheim, California.
The Indians (93-57) remain in the driver’s seat in the race to the top record in the AL this season with the hopes of claiming home field advantage throughout the junior circuit half of the postseason. They head into the weekday series with a game and a half lead over the Houston Astros for the best record in the league. They took care of the Angels in three games back in July at Progressive Field, winning on a walk-off Edwin Encarnacion grand slam on July 25 before winning 10-4 and 2-1 decisions to close out the series.
The pressure of a long winning streak has not been too much for the Indians, as Cleveland pulled within one game of the American League record for consecutive wins on Monday night with its 19th straight victory, an 11-0 shutout of the Detroit Tigers from Progressive Field.
There seems to be little slowing down the Indians (88-56), who have made it loud and clear that they are the favorites to claim the American League pennant despite missing several big names from the lineup and appearing unfazed by injuries that have chipped away at the roster throughout the second half of the schedule. Despite missing three former All-Stars in Andrew Miller, Michael Brantley, and Jason Kipnis and losing rookie Bradley Zimmer to what appears to be a season ending broken left hand, the Indians kept on rolling in the series opener with the Tigers and continued their dominance of Detroit since the beginning of July after dropping the first two series against them to start the season.
The Indians were challenged by rookie Myles Jaye on Monday night, as the young right-hander was making his third Major League appearance and first career start with the unenviable job of stopping Cleveland’s reign of terror on AL clubs. He would dodge a jam in the first, but that would be the last time he would slow down the Tribe.