The offseason begins with a lot of minor moves for teams that oftentimes get lost in the shuffle of an otherwise busy fall and winter break from playing.
The Cleveland Indians completed some of their mandatory moves on Monday, adding several players to the 40-man roster, opening another spot by declining an option, and extending one very important qualifying offer.
Goal number one for each team during the spring may be to survive the month and a half of preparation for the 162-game grind to come as healthy as possible.
While the focus for the Indians throughout this spring training camp has been on the statuses of former All-Stars Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis as they each get ready for the 2017 season, Cleveland was dealt a loss from an area of depth when pitcher Cody Anderson was lost for the season with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, in addition to a mild right flexor strain. Anderson, who shared that his arm had not felt right for a year, has opted to have the injury corrected through reconstructive Tommy John surgery, which will shelve him for all of the 2017 season.
The World Baseball Classic has deprived Major League spring training camps of countless players, but life carries on as the 30 teams prepare for the quickly approaching regular season slate of games.
The Indians, down eleven players from their organization, have continued on without some of the bigger names from their roster, including Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, and Andrew Miller. Despite the vacancies, the show must go on and the Tribe has put together a good stretch of play with their depleted roster, winning three straight over the weekend and four of their last five contests overall.
But with the good, generally comes the bad, and there was plenty of both over the course of the week.
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Countdown to Opening Day – 56 days
A missed opportunity may come back to haunt current wearer of number 56 in Cleveland, right-handed pitcher Cody Anderson.
Anderson left spring training last season with a spot in the Indians rotation. The team’s number four starter was coming off of a breakout performance in 2015, when he went 7-3 with a 3.05 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 15 starts, including one complete game and several flirtations with history. But the big righty, who came to Goodyear with a new look and believed to be in better physical conditioning, could not turn that good start to his big league career into a long-term grasp on a spot in the packed Indians starting rotation.
Cleveland pitcher Cody Anderson burst on to the Major League Baseball scene in 2015 with an unexpected 7-3 record while making 15 starts, throwing one complete game, and putting up an impressive 3.05 ERA and 1.11 WHIP.
That success put him on the team’s radar for their starting rotation for 2016. Then things fell apart.
Prior to their game on Saturday night, the Cleveland Indians got a little help from a divisional foe as the Kansas City Royals rallied for five runs with two outs in the top of the ninth to pull off an unlikely come-from-behind victory in Detroit over the Tigers, winning 7-4.
The loss by the Tigers drops the magic number for the Indians to clinch the American League Central Division to just two games. It also keeps alive the possibility that the Indians can clinch the crown on Sunday prior to hitting the road for the final seven games of the regular season schedule.
Their magic number is four. Their AL Central lead is a healthy seven games. There are just ten games left in the regular season.
Despite some tough luck on the injury front, things have gone rather nicely this season for the Cleveland Indians (89-63), who set their targets on a home field celebration this weekend. With three dates remaining from Friday to Sunday against the Chicago White Sox, the Indians could reduce their magic number to clinch down to one game with a sweep. The club could conceivably clinch on Saturday or Sunday, depending on how much the Kansas City Royals provide help in knocking the Detroit Tigers out of the divisional race in their weekend set.
The White Sox (72-80) stand in the Indians’ way this weekend, try to pull themselves back closer to the .500 mark. They are coming off of a series win the last time the two clubs met in Chicago, when they took three of four from the Tribe on their two-city road trip. The White Sox are coming off of an off day after dropping two to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Corey Kluber continued his pursuit of a second Cy Young Award with seven innings of one-run baseball as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Minnesota Twins by a 7-1 final on Sunday afternoon.
The Indians’ ace continued his strong season with ten strikeouts in his outing to win his 16th game of the season. He passed the 200-strikeout mark for the third straight season, joining elite company Bob Feller, Sam McDowell, and Gaylord Perry in doing so in club history.
Cleveland’s offense gave him plenty of support on the mound, as they plated three in the second to give the right-hander a lead to work with early. Abraham Almonte reached on an infield single and moved up on a walk from Tyler Naquin. Roberto Perez dropped down a successful sacrifice bunt in front of the plate to move both runners up before Michael Martinez curiously popped up a bunt to Jose Berrios on the mound for the second out. With the inning hanging by a thread, Carlos Santana slugged a monstrous shot down the right field line and nearly out of the park altogether, giving him his 31st homer of the season and the Indians a 3-0 lead.
The Cleveland Indians announced a handful of transactions on Thursday afternoon as the club took advantage of the September roster expansions.
The easy and expected moves were the activation of starting pitcher Danny Salazar from the paternity list and the formal addition of outfielder Coco Crisp after his acquisition from the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.
The Indians added additional depth at the catching position with Yan Gomes on the 60-day disabled list by purchasing the contract of backstop Adam Moore from Triple-A Columbus. To make room on the 40-man roster for the seven-year MLB veteran, the Indians designated outfielder Collin Cowgill for assignment.
On Wednesday, Columbus reliever Cody Anderson struck out the Indianapolis Indians’ Austin Meadows swinging to strike out the side and clinch the International League West Division for the Clippers with a 3-1 win at Victory Field.
Pushing their lead to 14 games, the Clippers became the first Triple-A team to clinch a division crown in 2016 as the club won its third title in the last three years. Columbus will get to relax some prior to the playoffs this season, which is a big change from their late September 7 clinch date last season. Twelve games remain on the Clippers schedule for this season while the team awaits its opponent for their postseason run.
At 78-54, Columbus is riding its hottest streak of the season, as it has now won nine straight games.
The Columbus Clippers have continued to play good baseball in the second half of their season to hold on to a four-game lead in the International League’s West Division as teams enter the weekend. At 55-46, the Clippers hold that lead over the Indianapolis Indians and a four and a half game lead over the third place Louisville Bats.
With Friday’s win over the PawSox, the Clippers have taken the first two of their four-game set with Pawtucket this weekend. Since their All-Star break, the Clippers have taken three of four in Toledo from the Mud Hens before dropping two of three to Louisville earlier in the week. The Clippers’ seven-game homestand will come to an end after Sunday afternoon’s game before the club hits the road for six straight road games in Norfolk and Charlotte starting Tuesday to wrap up the month of July.
In other Clipnotes from the state capital:
After concluding their series against the Pawtucket Red Sox over the weekend, the Columbus Clippers got back to work within the division with International League West Division matchups against Toledo and Louisville.
Columbus split their final two games in Pawtucket, winning 7-2 last Saturday before a 16-inning 5-4 loss on Sunday. They took their series against Toledo during the week, winning the first and last games of the three-game set, before hitting the road for Louisville. A 6-3 loss to the Bats in the opener was followed by another extra inning loss, a 4-3 defeat in 13 innings.
The loss on Friday dropped the Clippers record to 47-42 on the season and 4-4 to start July. Combined with an Indianapolis win, Columbus is tied for the top spot in the West Division. The Clippers will play two on Saturday in Columbus against Indianapolis before closing out the unofficial first half with a 1:05 PM game on Sunday. After Tuesday’s Triple-A All-Star Game, play will resume on Thursday with four in Toledo.
In other news and Clipnotes: