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Should The Surging Indians Pull The Trigger On A Deadline Deal?

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
The Cleveland Indians currently sit at 40-30 with a two game lead on the Royals for the AL Central Crown
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Indians are currently one of the hottest teams in baseball, and have been able to do some incredible things without the help of All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley. While everybody expected the AL Central division to be an extremely competitive division that would go neck-and-neck all year long between all five teams, nobody expected Cleveland to be leading the pack on June 22nd. Yes, Cleveland does have a decent roster with an incredible rotation, but to think they would play as well as they have without Brantley would have been ridiculous. Now as July approaches and the race for the postseason greatly intensifies, the big question returns, "What do the Indians do at the deadline?". While it is certainly feasible to say "Cleveland has a great farm system use it as trade bait for a big bat", it is also feasible to say "We're playing great see what happens and hold on to our bright future". In order to determine what Cleveland's front office should do, let's take a look at what the big components have been this season, and where their weaknesses are showing. 

The biggest boost in the stellar Cleveland rotation has been the breakout of right-hander Danny Salazar
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the 2016 season there were definitely some concerns about the Tribe, but one thing was for sure, they were going to pitch and they were going to pitch well. Despite Carlos Carrasco going down for a few weeks with an injury, the rotation has not disappointed one bit. The following are the stats of every  pitcher who has made one or more starts for the Indians this season. 

Corey Kluber (MLB) 7-7, 3.59 ERA, 102.2 innings, 103 strikeouts, 1.01 WHIP,  3-1/2.17 in June

Danny Salazar (MLB) 8-3, 2.23 ERA, 80.2 innings, 96 strikeouts, 1.12 WHIP, 3-0/1.77 in June

Josh Tomlin (MLB) 8-1, 3.32 ERA, 81.1 innings, 53 strikeouts, 1.08 WHIP, 1-0/2.36 in June

Trevor Bauer (MLB) 4-2, 3.46 ERA, 75.1 innings, 69 strikeouts, 1.25 WHIP, 1-0/2.12 in June

Carlos Carrasco (MLB) 2-2, 3.26 ERA, 47 innings, 42 strikeouts, 1.21 WHIP, 0-2/3.96 in June

Cody Anderson (AAA) 1-4, 7.48 ERA, 43.1 innings, 26 strikeouts, 1.64 WHIP

Mike Clevinger (AAA) 0-1, 8.79 ERA, 14.1 innings, 13 strikeouts, 1.60 WHIP

As it can be plainly seen, the red hot Indians pitching in the month of June can be largely credited for their recent success. Bauer has made a very nice transition back into the rotation after starting the season in the bullpen (3-2, 3.23 as a starter), Kluber has returned to form, Carrasco returned from the DL, and Salazar has continued his lights out ways. As a team the Indians 3.61 ERA is sixth in the major leagues, and their starters 3.75 is seventh in the MLB. On the pitching end, it is very clear that there will be no need to obtain a starter. As for the bullpen, despite sporting a nice 3.35 team bullpen ERA, another arm added to it is far from out of the question. The Tribe's current bullpen consists of closer Cody Allen, set-up man Bryan Shaw, along with Zach McAllister, Jeff Manship, Joba Chamberlain, Dan Otero, Tommy Hunter, Austin Adams, and Tom Gorzelanny. Heading into the season this would have looked shaky but the Tribe has gotten several pleasant surprises from a number of veterans. But with Gorzelanny being the only lefty in the pen, the struggles of Bryan Shaw, and the lack of insurance behind the veterans adding to the bullpen would be an extremely solid move. 

The Cleveland offense has been huge as of late, including coming up with four walkoff wins in their recent 10-0 home stretch
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Indians have pretty much silenced any questions about their offense in some people minds, but in others there are still plenty of questions and for good reason. The Indians are currently 10th in runs scored (333), 14th in hits (612), 13th in doubles (119), 14th in homeruns (85), and 15th in batting average (.256). While that isn't bad, and in fact could be considered quite good, the roster that they have is prone to slumps simple as that. With as heated as the playoff race can get, that one bat that you do or don't get can make a whole world of difference. Nobody knows better than a Cleveland fan how big a difference one big bat can make since it seems to always be that one big thing they are missing. No lead is a comfortable enough lead in baseball especially in this division, and there is no getting around the fact that the Indians have a hit or miss offense that could use some help. But where on the diamond?

While the Indians outfield has done surprisingly well despite being without Brantley and losing both Marlon Byrd and Abraham Almonte to PED suspensions, it is without a doubt the most logical place to slide in a new face
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Tribe outfield has been hit heavily as of late with injuries and suspensions, and while the fill in players are doing great a move in that area could do wonders. Nobody really seems to be sure how soon Brantley may come back, and while they recently did receive some good news on his shoulder we still may be looking at a month or more before he is back in the lineup. The Indians current outfielders are as follows.

Rajai Davis - .264, 35 R, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 21 SB

Tyler Naquin - .317, 17 R, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 2 SB

Lonnie Chisenhall - .274, 18 R, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 3 SB

Utility players who play OF - Michael Martinez (.314, 9 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI), Jose Ramirez (.292, 35 R, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 7 SB)

Yes, you could say that these numbers have been enough to get by, but with Naquin being a rookie and Chisenhall's history of inconsistency, the Indians would be very wise to add an outfielder. 

Veteran Juan Uribe has gotten hot as of late, belting long balls in four straight games, but an upgrade at third certainly would not hurt Cleveland
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Juan Uribe has not had a bad season for Cleveland for a 37 year old third baseman, but his roller coaster hot and cold streaks are not an ideal characteristic for your third baseman to have. While there is certainly a spot for him on the team, everyday maybe shouldn't be his title. Uribe is hitting .236 with 6 HR and 20 RBI, and had a solid .276 month of May, but there may be a better option. While the upgrade at the hot corner certainly isn't necessary especially with Giovanny Urshela waiting in AAA, it is an option. 

Former Silver Slugger winner Yan Gomes is not having a great season at the dish, and with backup catcher Roberto Perez out due to thumb surgery a move for another catcher could be possible
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

While I would not for one second even come close to second guessing the abilities of Yan Gomes, it is far from a secret that he is not having a good season offensively. Gomes is hitting a meager .184 with 7 HR and 28 RBI, as he just can't seem to get it going. Current backup catcher Chris Giminez is also struggling at the plate with a .176 average along with two homeruns and three RBI, so a move for a catcher is certainly feasible. 

With the questions about their current roster that I have brought up, the answer is yes, the Indians should go after somebody. They may be in good shape now but a baseball season is a long season with a lot of ups and downs and if you don't have the right guys to put the brakes on the downs real fast then you won't find yourself in the postseason and it's as simple as that. If there are questions about your roster especially involving consistency then by all means you need to address it. I will be writing a follow up article about what possible options there are for the Cleveland Indians to add on. 





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