The Cleveland Indians, of the American League Central, currently sit in third place with a record of 69-64. Surprisingly, this is the greatest number of games above .500 the Indians have been all season. Until recently, it had been a disappointing season for the Tribe, but it’s still possible for them to finish August with the exact same record they finished with last August. Last year, the Indians entered September 1st with a 71-64 record and lost their ace, Justin Masterson, two days into September. The Tribe went 20-5 after Masterson’s injury and finished the regular season on a 10 game win streak. A big reason for Cleveland’s great finish last year was the September domination of both Scott Kazmir and Ublado Jimenez. Kazmir and Jimenez picked up for the loss of Masterson and pitched themselves to multi-million dollar deals this past winter. Masterson is no longer pitching in the American League and another member of the starting rotation last September, Zach McAllister, is currently pitching in Triple-A. Even so, these current Cleveland Indians have gone 12-5 in their last 17 games and have won 16 games in August. The reason for this nice run is, once again, their pitching staff.
Corey Kluber is having a Cy-Young type season and currently has the seventh highest WAR in all of Major League Baseball at 5.9 (According to Baseball Reference). Kluber practically stole the number one spot in the Tribe’s rotation earlier this year and, with Masterson out of the picture, Kluber is now the unquestioned number 1 and potential ace of the staff. Kluber is joined in the Cleveland rotation by three, power throwing, right-handed pitchers. Danny Salazar, who came up and pitched very well down the stretch last season, is back up with the Tribe after losing a spot in the rotation earlier in the year and being sent down to Triple A. After working down in the minors for a few months, the Indians recalled Salazar on July 22nd and he has gone 4-2 with a 2.84 ERA in seven starts. The key for Salazar is the command of his fastball. He has a tendency to get it up in the zone and, even though he throws in the high 90’s, that will get hit. Trevor Bauer has thrown very well since he was called up to fill a spot in the rotation. This kid has a rubber arm and I honestly believe he will become the ace of the Cleveland Indians. He is an innings eater and consistently throws 110-120 pitches each start. He has a plus-plus fastball to go along with a plus curve ball that has the potential to be plus-plus. And then there is Carlos Carrasco; the last remaining member of a group of prospects the Indians received for Cliff Lee. Carrasco was given a rotation spot out of spring training, struggled mightily, and was sent to the bullpen where he shined. Out of desperation, the Indians gave him a start on August 10th against the Yankees and, after three more starts, Carrasco has given up only two runs in 23 2/3 innings pitched. It’s obvious that Carrasco has the stuff to be a solid starter in the big leagues but he has never quite figured it out. He threw well in the last handful of starts he made during the 2011 season before getting hurt and needing Tommy John Surgery. This forced Carrasco to miss all of 2012 and he spent half of 2013 in Triple A. If the rotation can keep throwing anywhere near the way they have thrown over the last 17 games, the Indians will be in the hunt for a playoff spot come the last week of September.