The Cleveland Indians are a team with plenty of unknowns entering the 2021 regular season.
Who will start in center field?
Who will be the fifth starter?
Will the pitching staff live up to the hype?
The Indians decided to slash payroll this offseason and there is now a mix of young and veteran talent trying to keep up the winning ways in 2021.
So should fans have optimism?
There are plenty of reasons to be excited in addition to the lingering concerns as the season approaches.
Shane Bieber, Filthy Knuckle Curve & Slider. 😷😷 pic.twitter.com/AodXM6dDg3
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 21, 2021
Reasons For Optimism in 2021
The Indians are surprisingly projected to have a good finish in 2021.
Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections have the team finishing second in the American League Central right behind the Minnesota Twins.
The Chicago White Sox are projected third and that may make even more sense now that Eloy Jimenez is out for what could be the entire season with a pectoral injury.
The projection right now is an 85-77 finish.
Saying that is not even a hometown bias, it is fact.
Then there is all the optimism in the bullpen.
The lineup is a whole other discussion.
Jose Ramirez should be the anchor.
Jose Ramirez has 61 home runs on fastballs since the start of 2018 — most in MLB.
Top 5 ⬇
2. Muncy 55
3. Harper 54
T4. Suarez 52
T4. Arenado 52 pic.twitter.com/8mJSBRbPUA
— Inside Edge (@IE_MLB) March 19, 2021
Once again, this could also go the other way.
Reasons for Concern
Having a young team leads to a lot of mystery.
The Indians could finish 90-72 or 72-90 and both would be believable records.
All the young talent means the Indians could have that rough finish and still be projected to do well in 2022.
The rotation outside of Bieber could end up being a huge disappointment.
The same is true for the bullpen and the lineup, maybe outside of Ramirez.
But there is no need to worry about that so early in the year.
Or maybe someone like Bradley Zimmer takes a huge step forward and holds down a starting job.
The Indians are always a unique team that leaves open competitions all over the roster in spring training.
The only positive from that is the top talent can rise to the top.
Hopefully, that will happen all over the roster this season.