Cleveland Indians 2008 MLB Season Preview

Matthew FoustCorrespondent IMarch 15, 2008

Key Acquisitions: Nobody 

Strengths: The Indians have depth and experience in their starting rotation. They only allowed 4.03 RPG to division foes in 2007. Their bullpen is also outstanding, ranking 5th in the league in runs per inning allowed and 4th in walks per inning allowed. They hit right handed and left handed pitching well as illustrated by their 5.26 RPG average in division play. They produce runs both at home (5.33 in division games) and on the road (5.19 in division). Cleveland also handles the leather well, their 92 errors on the season attest to this fact. 

Weaknesses: The Indians don't really have any major weaknesses. The only real concerns/weaknesses they may have going into 2008 are the possible lack of experience at the 5th starter position and if Joe Borowski can duplicate last year's effort as closer. He did have 45 saves but his stuff is far from great. He could be replaced by Rafael Betancourt sooner rather than later. 

Summary: Everyone appears ready to crown Detroit division champion - not so fast. The Indians have done nothing to diminish a championship level club from a season ago. They have alot of talent on the rise and nobody will knock them off the top of the division easily. The only real question marks are Sabathia and Carmona. Everyone knows Sabathia will be good but it remains to be seen if he will still be in his 2007 Cy Young form for what will likely be his last season in Cleveland. And will Carmona be able to build on a breakout 2007 season or will he look more like the post-season pitcher who struggled to keep Boston runs off the board? Those are good question marks to have, expect both pitchers to answer and answer well. 

Prediction: 1st Place AL Central 

Probable Starters

1B: Ryan Garko

2B: Asdrubal Cabrera

3B: Casey Blake

SS: Jhonny Peralta

DH: Travis Hafner

LF: Jason Michaels

RF: Franklin Gutierrez

CF: Grady Sizemore

C: Victor Martinez 

Key Players & TrendsI

In 2007 C.C. Sabathia pitched 18 times against division opposition. The average game score was 8.22 and the game score totaled only nine or more runs in seven out of the 18 games. Sabathia relinquished only 48 earned runs to division rivals, holding them to a 2.67 average over his 18 appearances. Cleveland went 12-6 in 2007 against divisional competition when Sabathia started. Since 2004 the average game score in divisional competition when Sabathia pitches is 8.31.