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October Bias: Cleveland Indians – The Crawfish Boxes

Today marks the beginning of the ALDS with the 2-seed Astros facing off against the 3-seed Indians. TCB have been taking some close looks at what Cleveland has to offer based off this season’s numbers, but there’s also another factor: a playoff veteran presence.

Of course even a grizzled regular season veteran isn’t always guaranteed to have a taste of the postseason while some of the younger players have been steady playoff contributors. October isn’t really about who’s been in the league longest anyways, as sometimes the most unlikely of heroes rises out of nowhere to become the stuff of postseason legends.

So let’s take a look and see who has been Cleveland’s biggest threats in Octobers past:

Cleveland Indians 2018 ALDS Roster

Starting pitchers: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger

Bullpen: Trevor Bauer, Shane Bieber, Cody Allen, Dan Otero, Adam Cimber, Andrew Miller, Oliver Perez, Brad Hand

Infield: Francisco Lindor, José Ramírez, Yonder Alonso, Josh Donaldson, Yandy Díaz and Edwin Encarnacion

Outfield: Greg Allen, Brandon Guyer, Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Melky Cabrera, Rajai Davis

Catchers: Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez

October Bias

Offense

Name Experience G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB WPA
Name Experience G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB WPA
Greg Allen 1 ALDS 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Michael Brantley 2 Yrs (2 Series) 4 16 15 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 .133 .188 .133 .321 2 1 0 0 0 0 -0.31
Melky Cabrera 4 Yrs (6 Series) 22 80 75 8 16 2 0 1 7 0 0 3 16 .213 .244 .280 .524 21 0 0 2 0 0 -0.27
Rajai Davis 3 Yrs (5 Series) 19 43 40 4 7 1 0 1 4 4 0 1 9 .175 .209 .275 .484 11 1 1 0 1 0 0.1
Josh Donaldson 5 Yrs (8 Series) 31 133 120 17 35 10 0 4 13 1 0 12 31 .292 .361 .475 .836 57 2 1 0 0 1 0.29
Edwin Encarnacion 3 Yrs (6 Series) 23 95 82 11 21 3 0 4 14 0 0 12 16 .256 .358 .439 .797 36 2 1 0 0 5 0.07
Yan Gomes 3 Yrs (3 Series) 8 16 14 1 4 2 0 0 1 0 0 2 4 .286 .375 .429 .804 6 1 0 0 0 1 0.08
Brandon Guyer 1 Yr (3 Series) 10 24 18 6 6 1 0 0 3 0 0 4 5 .333 .500 .389 .889 7 0 2 0 0 0 0.15
Jason Kipnis 3 Yrs (5 Series) 21 90 87 9 18 3 1 4 9 0 0 2 24 .207 .233 .402 .636 35 1 1 0 0 0 -0.54
Francisco Lindor 2 Yrs (4 Series) 20 84 76 7 20 3 0 3 10 1 3 8 22 .263 .333 .421 .754 32 2 0 0 0 2 -0.26
Roberto Perez 2 Yrs (4 Series) 19 64 53 6 11 1 0 4 9 0 0 9 18 .208 .323 .453 .775 24 2 0 2 0 0 -0.09
Jose Ramirez 2 Yrs (4 Series) 20 81 76 8 17 2 0 1 3 0 1 5 15 .224 .272 .289 .561 22 1 0 0 0 1 -0.52

Information from Baseball-Reference.com

Cleveland’s most experienced playoff veterans were not even on the team at the beginning of the season as Melky Cabrera was a late April minor-league signing before working his way back up to the major league club. He was later joined by Josh Donaldson who came over in a late August deal and seems to be rounding back into form after spending a large chunk of the season on the DL.

Donaldson is joined by Edwin Encarnacion as Cleveland’s most storied player, but like Donaldson he garnered a majority of that experience with other teams. A big part of that was actually with Donaldson as they would both spend 2015 and 2016 with Toronto, who fell short in the ALCS both of those seasons. In a slight twist, they would be sent home by their current team in 2016, who would go on to lose to the Cubs in the World Series.

Of the remaining players Kipnis, Lindor, and Ramírez represent the most experience in the postseason, each logging between 80 to 90 AB, all of those coming with the Indians. Speaking of, Kipnis, Gomes, and Brantley represent the last three players of Cleveland’s offense to be in the lineup for their ill-fated 2013 Wild Card game, where they would get bounced by the Tampa Bay Rays.

Rajai Davis and Roberto Perez have both seen a good chunk of time with the Indians in the playoffs. Davis especially holds a special place in the hearts of the Cleveland faithful, having mashed a game-tying home run in the 8th inning of Game 7 in the World Series that would help send it to extra innings.

After that Cleveland has Guyer, Gomes, and Allen for players with postseason experience but none of them have seen significant time on the field, though Guyer does have 10 games under his belt.

Bullpen

Name Experience W L ERA G GS GF SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BF WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 WPA
Name Experience W L ERA G GS GF SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BF WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 WPA
Cody Allen 3 Yrs (5 Series) 0 0 0.47 15 0 9 7 19.1 14 3 1 0 8 1 33 1 82 1.138 6.5 0 3.7 15.4 1.54
Trevor Bauer 2 Yrs (4 Series) 1 3 3.27 7 6 1 0 22 24 12 8 3 7 1 28 0 96 1.409 9.8 1.2 2.9 11.5 -0.11
Andrew Miller 4 Yrs (7 Series) 2 1 1.10 20 0 2 1 32.2 17 4 4 3 8 0 48 1 121 0.765 4.7 0.8 2.2 13.2 1.83
Dan Otero 3 Yrs (5 Series) 0 1 2.63 11 0 1 0 13.2 13 4 4 2 1 0 5 0 53 1.024 8.6 1.3 0.7 3.3 -0.08
Oliver Perez 4 Yrs (4 Series) 2 0 3.86 10 2 1 0 16.1 17 7 7 3 5 1 10 2 69 1.347 9.4 1.7 2.8 5.5 -0.1

Information from Baseball-Reference.com

Cleveland’s bullpen has a few arms in it that have tasted the postseason and thrived. Andrew Miller has easily been Cleveland’s most dominant October reliever, going his first 20 postseason innings across 3 years and 3 teams before giving up his first postseason ER to the Cubs in the 2016 WS. He would also take home ALCS MVP honors that year with 7.2 innings of 3-hit ball and 14 strikeouts.

Though he’s had his struggles in the regular season this year, Cody Allen has been the Indian’s premiere closer in October, logging 7 saves as well as 15.2 innings of scoreless ball throughout Cleveland’s 2016 World Series run.

Dan Otera and old friend Oliver Perez round out the regulars for the bullpen, but both have had mixed results in the postseason. Otera hasn’t really been awful, but he certainly hasn’t been as dominant as some of his fellow playoff teammates. You may remember Perez from Houston’s 2015 ALDS exit, but he’s spent the last couple of season’s in the Nats’ pen where he would manage to avoid any earned runs on his ledger during their ALDS exits. Fun Fact: Perez has appeared in the playoffs for three straight seasons and those teams have all bowed out in their respective division series.

Trevor Bauer will start the series out of the pen, but there has been some talk that he may get the ball to start Game 4. Bauer has not had success in the playoffs, taking losses in both of his World Series appearances and giving up 12 runs, 8 earned, across 22 October innings. He did have one start where he was nails, winning Game 1 against the Yankees’ in last years’ ALDS with 6.2 shutout innings before taking the loss in Game 4.

Starters

Name Experience W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 WPA
Name Experience W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 WPA
Corey Kluber 2 Yrs (4 Series) 4 2 3.54 8 8 0 0 0 40.2 38 16 16 7 11 0 45 3 0 0 171 1.205 8.4 1.5 2.4 10 0.39
Mike Clevinger 2 Yrs (3 Series) 0 0 6.43 6 0 3 0 0 7 5 6 5 2 9 0 6 0 0 1 35 2.000 6.4 2.6 11.6 7.7 -0.09
Carlos Carrasco 1 ALDS 0 0 0.00 1 1 0 0 0 5.2 3 0 0 0 3 0 7 1 0 0 22 1.059 4.8 0 4.8 11.1 0.27

Information from Baseball-Reference.com

Kluber is the October workhorse of the Indians’ rotation, really all of their pitching, having seen 40.2 innings of playoff baseball. His ERA doesn’t really tell the full story of his past postseason performance, with a big part of that coming from a disastrous 2.2 innings of 6-run ball in last year’s ALDS. His Game 5 start wasn’t much better, but it was later revealed that Kluber had been fighting an injury in that time. He was a revelation in his first postseason with the Indians during the 2016 run where he would hold opponents to just 7 runs scattered across 34.1 innings.

Clevinger will make his first postseason start in Game 2, having previously only seen service out of the bullpen. Clevinger hasn’t been that special in the postseason in spite of his recent regular season success. In 7 innings of October relief he’s coughed up 6 runs, including 2 HR, 9 walks, and has only struck out 6. Of course Clevinger has improved greatly in 2018, and this is a small sample size, but October is different than the regular season and we’ll see if he can overcome these past issues.

Finally, Carrasco will make just the second postseason start of his career, indeed just his second October appearance, in Game 3. His one start was probably the Indians’ best performance by a starter last season when he would go 5.2 shutout innings of 3-hit ball, shutting down a potent Yankees’ offense. On top of being one of the better pitchers that no one talked about this season, he’s also shown that the postseason spotlight doesn’t bother him.

The Indians will not be pushovers as they are indeed a formidable opponent and when you look at past postseasons you can see that there is a pedigree of success there. Last season’s early exit was a surprise for many reasons, but they have shown that they certainly have the potential to go deep with the experience sitting on their bench and in their pen.

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