Newsflash: Indians pitchers are very good at fanning opposing batters. This has been a growing trend.
Last year, the Indians’ rotation averaged 8.92 strikeouts per nine innings. Such a feat hadn’t been seen in a very long time—since 1884, to be exact, when the Milwaukee Brewers pitching corps had similar statistics (per FanGraphs). Impressive to say the least, the pitchers for the Tribe have somewhat flown under the radar.
Well, perhaps “under the radar” isn’t exactly the right expression, as ace Corey Kluber is the reigning American League Cy Young award winner, and he also recently graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. As a unit, however, Tribe pitchers are rarely mentioned amongst the elite in the Major League Baseball (MLB).
That could change very soon, though.
Despite a disappointing start (what else is new for Cleveland sports), the top three pitchers in the Indians rotation have been nothing short of superb. You’ve undoubtedly heard of Cleveland’s other big three (for the Cavaliers in the National Baseball Association (NBA)), but this group for the Indians is making some serious noise.
Kluber started the season right where he left off last year, Carlos Carrasco has (thus far) shown he is last season’s dominating second-half version of himself and Trevor Bauer (perhaps the most notable of the bunch) has come out firing on all cylinders.
Yet so far, the Tribe’s powerhouse pitching hasn’t translated into victories. As of April 22, the Indians record stands at 5-9, leaving many fans with the impression that this could be a long season if things don’t turn around in a hurry.
Just give it time. Have patience.
The issue, really, has been lack of hitting. The pitching has been astounding, and especially by these three guys.
Kluber (although he has yet to punch his first win of the season) has pitched like a Cy Young Award winner. His ERA stands at 3.90 through four games and he’s amassed 25 strikeouts in 21.2 innings. Carrasco’s numbers are also noteworthy, as he’s struck out 18 batters through 11.1 innings, while also just allowing one walk. On other teams, he could be an ace in the pitching rotation, so having him in the second slot is a great luxury for the Indians. Bauer, the third pitcher in the rotation, has thus far been even better than Kluber and Carrasco. He’s struck out 26 batters while maintaining a torrid 0.95 ERA and holding opposing batters to a .125 batting average.
The numbers for all three of these guys should lead to wins sooner rather than later.
The Indians can hang their hats on their pitching, and traditionally speaking, pitching trumps hitting in the grand scheme of things. If the Tribe batters can find their groove, the early 5-9 record will be a distant memory before too long.
So too will the times of calling the Indians “Big Three” underrated on the national level.