Beginning to write this one while the Indians attempt to finish off the sweep of the Los Angeles Angels. They are currently in the 14th inning, and as per the norm there has been little Tribe offense and surprisingly very good Indians pitching…
– The team’s starting pitching has looked pretty strong the last week or so, especially if you don’t count Mitch Talbot and Fausto Carmona. Regardless, the starters have posted a 2.30 ERA for September as of Wednesday. The bullpen has been equally as impressive lately. As of the end of the 14th inning Wednesday night, the bullpen threw 6 innings of 2 hit, shutout baseball. It has been pretty much across the board lately, as Acta has been able to run almost anyone out there and get results.
– The emergence of Chris Perez has stabalized the bullpen. Knowing that their is a lock down guy in the 9th inning can give everyone so much more confidence. Now that the team has the closer role settled, they can focus on locking down other pitching roles as we get closer to 2011.
– Justin Masterson – He of the random flashes of awesomeness, has officially made his last start of the season. He has thrown 166 innings, just short of his 180 inning cap on the season. The team will use him out of the bullpen to get his last 14 innings. Masterson will go to Spring Training as a starting pitcher, aided by his strong finish to the season. My argument about him has been that I didn’t buy him as a starter, and I still do not. However, his strong finish has swayed me just a bit – he just needs to channel his awesomeness, as consistency is key. His last 7 starts of the season saw him post a 2.95 ERA, but his walk to strikeout ratio could have definitely been better. He had 29 k’s and 20 walks in those 7 games.
– How about Lou Marson? A grand slam!??! I must admit after he hit that I thought the world was going to end. He really is proving to be a plus defender behind the plate, one of the best in the league at throwing out runners, and he really would make a solid back up for Carlos Santana. Marson could even start on a team that had the ability to not need great offense from their catcher.
– Michael Brantley’s catch last night was phenomenal. My jaw hit the ground when I saw him make the grab. I really think he will force Acta to think long and hard about moving Grady Sizemore to LF next year.
– Travis Hafner is really swinging the bat well the last few weeks. Since the All-Star break he has been the best hitter, however, his power is obviously no longer a real factor. He can hit doubles, and has been hitting a ton of them. 25 of his 93 hits this year have been doubles, while 11 have been homeruns. So in relation to how many hits he has he is showing improved power, but the inconsistency and lack of real punch is a downer. You could tell his homer Tuesday night that the power stroke really is dissapearing. He got all of that ball and it barely managed to clear the right center field wall, which compared to his bombs of a few years ago there is a monumental difference.
– The team is showing signs of life, positive signs for next season. Enough to get me excited, but at the same time there is still a lot of bad baseball being played. While the pitching has been solid, the offense and defense has been underwhelming. Outside of Marson, Brantley, Choo and Cabrerea, no one really knows how to field their positions.
– Matt LaPorta is on my crap list again. 0-14 coming into Wednesday night’s game. His stats this year are putrid. He is unreliable and obviously prone to long slumps. You could argue that this whole year, and last year, have been a slump for the “slugger”. He must get things figured out. He isn’t a kid anymore. Now Manny Acta has publicly stated he thinks LaPorta can be all that is expected of him, the pressure is really on. 2011 will be a make or break year for LaPorta’s career. His line this year reads, .226/.309/.358 with 9 HR, 34 RBI and 13 doubles in 93 games. Not good numbers for a 1st baseman, and not good at all for a guy who is supposed to be a big time slugger.
– Carlos Carrasco looks like the stud he was before the trade last summer for Cliff Lee. No wins for him yet this season, or at all in his big league career, thanks to the offense and the bullpen. But, a nice 3.38 ERA with 10 k’s and 3 walks and a nice WHIP of 1.12 through his first 13.1 innings this season is definitely a nice start to the 23 year old’s audition for 2011. 3 HR’s is a big concern though, but his .245 average against kind of cancels it out, as he is limiting damage. It is hard to make conclusions off of 2 starts, but what else is there to do? He has looked like a front-end starter, and at 23, this should be just the beginning.