The National League team I root for is the San Diego Padres, so it hurt even more when the Cleveland Indians traded catching prospect Franciso Mejia to San Diego for All Star closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber to bolster their most glaring weakness headed into the “second half” of the season. Remember, Cleveland was the team that didn’t think Matt Belisle was fit to stay in their reliever corps. Why the Twins made a move for Belisle is beyond me, but we’re already getting off topic.
Hand was the subject of many trade rumors last July, and after the season had ended. The Padres apparently waited for the right opportunity and got a very good prospect from the Indians’ minor league system. Getting a pitcher of Cimber’s caliber is just the icing on top for Cleveland, still missing Cody Allan, Josh Tomlin, and Andrew Miller from their bullpen as they deal with injuries.
Dan and I were not large proponents of the Twins selling this trade deadline on the last two Supershows, mentioning Brian Dozier as the one player we’d be okay with leaving to get a chance to win on a contender. With a bolstered bullpen, and an offense slowly waking up from a first-half slumber, the Indians may make another improbable run and find themselves twenty games ahead of Minnesota and Detroit if their production stays consistent, and their players stay healthy.
People were quick to point out Brad Hand as the best piece in the trade, but Adam Cimber is actually having a slightly better season than Minnesota’s own, though not by much:
Cimber – 48.1 IP, 3.17 ERA, 10 BB, 51 SO, 2.32 FIP, and a 1.076 WHIP
Hand – 44.1 IP, 3.05 ERA, 15 BB, 65 SO, 3.17 FIP, and a 1.083 WHIP
Cimber also owns a .4 WAR in 2018, to Hand’s -0.1. Not much is separating these two pitchers, and their numbers are far and away better than just about anything Cleveland trotted out before the All Star Break.
Twins fans should be worried about the arrival of Hand and Cimber to Cleveland, but is it a forgone conclusion that the Tribe will run away with the AL Central? Should Cleveland fans be gearing up for a ticker tape parade come October? I’m not so sure.
Here’s what Cleveland did in the win/loss column for the first 95 games of their season:
28-13 vs. AL Central
24-30 vs. rest of league
As much as I’ll hold out hope that the Twins make one of the most impressive runs in August and September, I will concede that it doesn’t look great for the Twin Cities Twins. However, winning the division isn’t everything. Here’s how Cleveland stacks up against their potential playoff partners:
2-5 vs. NYY
2-5 vs. SEA
3-4 vs. HOU
7 games remaining against BOS
With 67 games remaining in their schedule, Cleveland will get DET (6 total / 3 @ home) KC (10 total / 3 @ home) MIN (10 total / 7 @ home) and CHW (9 total / 3 @ home). 35 of Cleveland’s remaining games are vs. AL Central opponents. 19 at home vs. 16 on the road. The Indians’ front office is hoping that Hand and Cimber bolster bullpen, that the rest of the team stays healthy, and that they win more on road; especially against non-AL Central opponents. The Indians would have the 3rd best record in the AL East and the 4th best in the AL West. Yikes.
Let’s break down what Cleveland’s AL Central record looks like:
KC 4-2 (H) 3-0 (A)
DET 4-0 (H) 3-3 (A)
MIN 2-1 (H) 2-4 (A)
CHW 6-0 (H) 2-2 (A)
That’s a record of 16-3 at home vs. 10-9 away against AL Central opponents. Clearly the Indians are better at home than on the road, and if not for the Twins taking 4 of 6 from them at Target Field, the ratio would look a lot better. It’s hard for me to sit down and look at Cleveland’s roster and point and scream that they’ll have a chance at making it out of the ALDS, let alone winning the ALCS or the World Series. They’re a good team being floated by a bad division, something Twins fans are all too familiar with.
Even with Corey Kluber, Francisco Lindor, and the newly acquired Brad Hand; Cleveland will still have a tall task ahead of them once/if they make it out of the AL Central. The Indians do not have winning records against New York, Seattle, and Houston during the regular season; and I can’t see Boston losing more than they win in their upcoming 7 games. Stranger things have happened in baseball, but the path to the World Series in the AL Central will almost be impossible to navigate in 2018.
- Panda Pete
(Originally posted on TwinsAndLosses.com)