Lemon Looking Like an Ace

June 1, 1948

The Cleveland Indians might have a solid piece of pitching foundation in place with starting pitcher Bob Lemon.

Lemon has been fantastic during the course of the season so far and has provided the team with a capable one-two punch to go with incumbent Indians mainstay, Bob Feller.

Lemon did not pitch at the major league level until 1946, when he was 4-5 in 32 appearances on the season. While he did make five starts, the bulk of his work was out of the bullpen. He earned a 2.49 ERA over the course of the year.

During the 1947 campaign, Lemon continued to improve on the mound. He compiled an 11-5 record in 37 appearances. That season, he made 15 starts and logged 74 more innings than the previous season. While he averaged slightly more hits over the season, he reduced his walk rate considerably.

This season, Lemon has been a workhorse for manager Lou Boudreau.

He leads the team in strikeouts with 43 in just over 78 innings of work on the year. He has been effective with both a fastball and his big breaking curveball. His eleven strikeouts on Tuesday were a season-high for the club.

His seven wins on the season leads the majors.

He has not allowed a run since Dom DiMaggio’s two-out, two-run single in the top of the fourth inning of his May 20 meeting against the Boston Red Sox. He brings a scoreless string of 25 innings into his next ball game against the Washington Senators. He has held the Nats scoreless this season in two starts and limited them to four hits in each game.

Boudreau hopes to pitch Lemon in each of the four series on the team’s 14-game east coast road trip.

Lemon has provided a second solid arm to the Tribe’s pitching staff. In his ten appearances through the end of May, he has given the team a 7-2 record and a 2.07 ERA.

While Lemon has been just what the Indians pitching staff needed, Feller has not seen the same success in his win-loss record. He has a 5-4 record so far this season, but he has supported the team with a 3.09 ERA. He trails Lemon with 28 strikeouts on the year and has limited the opposition to a .212 batting average against him in nine starts and one relief appearance.

There remains some concern about who else will step up to assist the Indians’ dynamic duo at the top of the rotation. Rookie left-hander Gene Bearden has done an excellent and consistent job over the last few weeks. Including Monday’s win over the St. Louis Browns, Bearden is 4-1 on the season in five starts and has logged eight innings or more in every appearance.

Don Black has stepped up with two good efforts in each of his last two outings. He has won each of his last two starts after not pitching beyond the third inning in his first two games of the year.

There is little doubt that the Indians offense has enough firepower to do some damage in the American League. The key to the season will continue to fall upon the success or failure of the starting pitching.

With the way that Lemon has emerged as the staff ace and leader, the Indians may not have as many concerns now with the pitching staff as they did when the season began in April.

Photo: ootpdevelopments.com

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