The Cleveland Indians entered last season as one of the biggest division favorites on the board. They were expected to have the easiest path of anyone to the American League Central but the division turned out to be one of the biggest surprises. The Indians still ended up winning 93 games last year but they missed the playoffs and finished eight games back of the Minnesota Twins. Now they enter the 2020 season with even lower expectations as their regular-season win total is down to 85.5.
What’s the best bet with the Indians on this prop and what should we expect in 2020?
We’re looking at a starting rotation that will feature Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco, Zach Plesac and maybe Adam Plutko. Clevinger is a front-line starter but keep in mind that he just tore a meniscus in his knee and will now miss probably about seven-to-eight weeks. As long as Clevinger is healthy for the bulk of the season – something that is a question mark after he only made 21 starts last year – the Indians should be in good shape in this department. Carrasco appears to be over his battle with Leukemia and will rejoin the starting rotation. With Bieber in the mix, a pitcher who emerged as a fringe Cy Young candidate, this should be a solid one-two-three.
The back of the rotation has some question marks and this team won’t be able to withstand serious injuries. This trio needs to stay healthy and effective for this to be a 90-win team.
The Indians bullpen has been up-and-down in recent years but they look like they have the parts to be one of the best bullpens in the American League. Closer Brad Hand has been an All-Star in three straight seasons. There are other quality arms Oliver Perez, James Karinchak, Emmanuel Clase, Adam Cimber and Jefry Rodriguez – if they don’t use him in the rotation.
This is a unit that’s been inconsistent, though, as they were bad in 2018 and while they were stellar early on in 2019, they faded a little bit in the second half. Part of it might be overuse. With better starting pitching, this should be a team strength.
There’s no question that the Indians have some pop in the lineup with guys like Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, Jose Ramirez, Roberto Perez, and Franmil Reyes, but there are questions beyond that. Cesar Hernandez should plug a hole at second base and Oscar Mercado is a good piece too. However, this line still feels like the middle-of-the-pack unit it was last year. They finished 15th in average, 15th in OPS and 16th in runs. I’m not expecting them to be very different this time around.
Regular Season Win Total
Odds: 85.5 at DraftKings
When it comes to the Indians, I’m not bullish on them. If everything goes right, I think we could possibly be looking at 90-win teams. However, I’m not expecting everything to go right. The pitching rotation is decent but remember that they lost a lot of depth with Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber moving on. They should be fine if everyone stays healthy but Clevinger is already hurt. That’s a bad sign.
Overall, I just see this team hanging around in the .500 range, which means I’m going under their regular-season win total. I also wouldn’t bet them to win the division, pennant or World Series at this point.