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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | December 2, 2021

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Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 8

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 8

| On 16, Jul 2020

Baseball is just over a week from its return, barring something horrific derailing Summer Camp 2020. Did The Tribe Win Last Night is here with you as we count down the days until the Indians kick off play to start the pandemic-shortened schedule on July 24. – BT

Countdown to Opening Day – 8 days

The biggest question about the composition of the Cleveland Indians roster for the 2020 season remains unresolved, with Jordan Luplow’s name a big part of that discussion.

The Indians’ outfield is full of a deep pool of candidates, but few who have cemented their names into spots on manager Terry Francona’s roster for the pandemic-shortened season coming in just eight days. Oscar Mercado is all but a lock in center field, and Franmil Reyes is a lock somewhere, whether it be in right field, at designated hitter, or in a mixture of both. Tyler Naquin’s performance around injury last season would indicate that he would have at least regular playing time in the grass, but after that, the picture starts to get murky.

Luplow is joined by the likes of Greg Allen, Jake Bauers, Delino DeShields, Daniel Johnson, Domingo Santana, and Bradley Zimmer as remaining candidates for spots on the big league roster, and all have question marks associated with them.

Allen has spent parts of each of the last three seasons with the Indians, but despite flashes of speed and an ability to play all three outfield spots, his offensive contributions have been minimal. Bauers struggled and was demoted a season ago after splitting time at left field and first base. DeShields has been almost exclusively a center fielder during his career and resembles Allen’s production away from the glove, bringing some speed on the base paths but little at the plate. Johnson has not played above the Triple-A level and is therefore a somewhat unknown commodity. Santana is another new face in the clubhouse, signing with the club after spending last year with the Seattle Mariners. Zimmer has struggled with injuries and a gigantic hole in his swing, but if he could resolve both issues, the former first rounder certainly could move towards his once lofty ceiling.

Then there is Luplow. Still just 26, the third rounder out of the 2014 draft by Pittsburgh got his biggest test of the Majors a season ago and built upon the lackluster numbers put up in his first 64 games while with the Pirates in 2017 and 2018.

Ramirez & Luplow – Ron Schwane/Getty Images

Luplow saw action 85 times for the Tribe in 2019, working at all three outfield spots while also serving as a pinch-hitter. A right-handed hitter who tended to work in a platoon role for the club, Luplow eventually hit his way into more consistent playing time, but it came after fighting through some early season woes.

Three weeks into the campaign, Luplow was out of a job in Cleveland when he was optioned on April 13 to Columbus to make room for the addition of veteran outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. He returned when Allen suffered a similar fate and was sent packing for the state capital.

After his recall from Columbus, Luplow looked more comfortable at the plate. Logging innings in center and right field, he had his first multi-hit game of the season on May 9, slugging a pair of homers in Cleveland’s 5-0 win over the Chicago White Sox. He repeated the feat on May 14, blasting two more homers against the White Sox in a 9-0 shutout. He added three more homers before the end of the month (including a fifth against the Sox on May 30) to give him seven with 14 RBI while pushing his season batting average up to .244.

The outfield puzzle was in flux over the first couple of months of the season. Mercado was called up in mid-May when Naquin found himself on the shelf. He returned at the beginning of June, which cut into Luplow’s playing time, even after the May release of Gonzalez and June release of Leonys Martin. In his limited work in 60 plate appearances, he slashed .280/.400/.480 with two homers and ten RBI. The at bats continued to dwindle away in July, despite a healthy .293/.383/.512 showing in 47 plate appearances.

Luplow survived the roster moves made on August 1 when the Indians formally added Yasiel Puig and Reyes to the 25-man roster after the Tribe’s three-team trade with Cincinnati and San Diego. Allen and Bauers headed back to Columbus, but Luplow joined them there (during his rehab assignment) after being placed on the injured list on August 6 with a right hamstring strain that cost him a month of action. When he returned, Naquin was gone with his ACL tear and with his old platoon spot in right field gone due to the arrival of Puig, Luplow ate up innings in similar fashion in left while hitting .303 over the final month of the season with two doubles, a triple, four homers, and nine RBI with a .489 on-base percentage in 16 games.

He ended the year with encouraging marks overall, hitting .276 with a .372 OBP and .551 slugging mark in 85 games with 15 doubles, one triple, 15 homers, and 38 RBI.

On the grand scheme of things, Luplow may most realistically be viewed as a platoon bat for Francona. His numbers versus same-side pitching were down dramatically compared to southpaws (despite having almost 50 fewer plate appearances against them). He slashed .216/274/.299 against right-handers in 106 plate appearances with five doubles, one homer, and eight RBI with 29 strikeouts and just seven walks. Against left-handers, he boasted a .320/.439/.742 line in 155 trips to the plate with ten doubles, one triple, 14 homers, and 30 RBI, striking out 32 times while drawing 26 walks.

Luplow’s production of a season ago should be enough to give him a strong look over the Indians’ 60-game slate in 2020, but he has not yet shown himself ready to be an everyday option for Francona and his staff. The numbers should give him a leg up on some of the other roster candidates for outfield spots, but he will have to sustain that output knowing that others are waiting in the wings for opportunities to become available.

Other notable 8s in Tribe history (36 in total): Luke Sewell (the first from 1929-32), Ken Keltner (1941-44), Ray Boone (1949-53), Willie Kirkland (1961-62), Ray Fosse (1967-72), Albert Belle (1990-96), John McDonald (1999-2004), Lonnie Chisenhall (2012-18).

Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire (via Getty Images)

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Miss out on our other Countdown pieces? Check out more Indians history below!

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 99 (Daniel Robertson)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 90 (Adam Cimber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 88 (Phil Maton)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 77 (Jack Armstrong)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 76 (Tom Magrann)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 75 (Mike Walker)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 73 (Ricardo Rincon)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 72 (Jason Giambi)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 71 (Johnny Hodapp)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 70 (James Karinchak, George Kontos)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 69 (Luis Medina)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 68 (Jefry Rodriguez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 67 (Aaron Civale, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 66 (Yasiel Puig, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 65 (Zach Plesac, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 64 (Tom Kramer, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 63 (Josh Smith, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 62 (Nick Wittgren, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 61 (Dan Otero, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 60 (Jhonny Peralta, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 59 (Carlos Carrasco)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 58 (Neil Ramirez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 57 (Shane Bieber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 56 (Cody Anderson)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 55 (Roberto Perez)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 54 (Hunter Wood)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 53 (Logan Allen)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 52 (Mike Clevinger)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 51 (numerous)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 50 (James Hoyt, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 49 (Tyler Olson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 48 (Emmanuel Clase, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 47 (Trevor Bauer)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 46 (Jon Edwards, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 45 (Adam Plutko)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 44 (Nick Goody, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 43 (Josh Tomlin, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 42 (Mike Jackson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 41 (Carlos Santana, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 40 (Bobby Bradley, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 39 (Oliver Perez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 38 (Eric Haase, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 37 (Cody Allen, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 36 (Tyler Clippard, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 35 (Oscar Mercado, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 34 (A.J. Cole, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 33 (Brad Hand, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 32 (Franmil Reyes, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 31 (Danny Salazar, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 30 (Tyler Naquin, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 29 (Andre Thornton)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 28 (Corey Kluber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 27 (Kevin Plawecki, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 26 (Max Moroff, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 25 (Jim Thome)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 24 (Carlos Gonzalez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 23 (Michael Brantley, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 22 (Jason Kipnis)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 21 (Bob Lemon, Rocky Colavito, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 20 (Frank Robinson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 19 (Bob Feller)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 18 (Mel Harder)
Indians’ 2020 Opening Day Countdown Take Two – 17 (Brad Miller, others)
Indians’ 2020 Opening Day Countdown Take Two – 16 (Mike Sarbaugh, others)
Indians’ 2020 Opening Day Countdown Take Two – 15 (Sandy Alomar, Jr.)
Indians’ 2020 Opening Day Countdown Take Two – 14 (Larry Doby)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 13 (Hanley Ramirez, Omar Vizquel)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 12 (Francisco Lindor, Roberto Alomar)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 11 (Jose Ramirez)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 10 (Jake Bauers)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 9 (Carlos Baerga)

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