Had the Indians won the World Series last year, or even if the actual champions weren’t scuffling themselves, all the hangover talk might be concentrated on Cleveland right now.
But neither of those “if’s” were true and now Joe Maddon has to defend’s his team’s underwhelming start.
Of course, it would have been nearly impossible for the Cubs to overwhelm us this season after last and “scuffling” is a relative term. The Cubs are 25-24 and still very much going to be in the playoffs with a chance to defend their championship.
The Indians are only a bit better, 25-23 and in second-place in the AL Central. Whether it be Josh Tomlin, the offense, or even Carlos Carrasco, the Indians have shown every bit as much ability as they had last season. They just haven’t been able to put together the consistency to win at the rate they should be.
And maybe that’s just as well. We’ve got 113 to go, anyway.
That last man I named started the season about as consistently as a starting pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw can hope to be. Carrasco gave up three runs once in his first seven starts; otherwise, he was giving teams no more than two. He ate innings, too. With the exception of one start where he got 17 outs, Carrasco went at least six in all of those first seven.
But he’s been off in his last two, giving up nine earned runs in a total of just 10 innings. Seven walks stand out when you look at his game log.
Fortunately, the Indians have won both games by the score of 8-7. But runs might not come quite as easily on Monday when the Indians face Daniel Mengden.
Mengden broke his foot and had to get surgery in January. He’s been working his way back in Triple-A Nashville and made four starts there before Kendall Graveman hit the DL yesterday with a sore shoulder.
Mengden garnered attention quickly last season when he came up to the big leagues for the first time and threw four straight good games. The rookie fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M then started to lose it and if you check his Major League stats now you’ll find an ugly record with an ERA to match.
But the only Indians batter with an at-bat against Mengden is Edwin Encarnacion (he struck out and walked). Mengden has shown the ability to get big league hitters out at one time and he’s a year older with another chance to make the case to stay up. There is a distinct chance that he holds Cleveland to two, three runs and gets through five innings.
And if he doesn’t, there’s always the possibility that Carrasco throws a shutout. This total is a run too high if you ask me.
Free Pick: Under 9.0 (-120)