Bold Predictions for the 2008 Cleveland Indians: Pitchers

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IMarch 20, 2008

Pitching is what makes the Cleveland Indians a contender for the World Series crown in October.

Detroit has their hitting and they’ve made additions to create a very potent lineup.

Instead of answering the move for Miguel Cabrera, the Indians stood still and made a few minor deals.

Cleveland brought in Masahide Kobayashi, an elite closer in Japan to deepen their bullpen.

The rotation is as deep as any in the major leagues with plenty of young talent on the way. Especially if veterans Cliff Lee or Paul Byrd cannot get the job done.

While they have a powerful offense that can be lethal at any time, this team got to 96 wins in 2007 with their pitching.

The big question is the fifth rotation spot and who will claim it to start the season.

Right now Cliff Lee is the frontrunner due to his bigger contract and as of right now his better spring than both Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers.

With a questionable rotation spot and a even more questioned closer in mind. This is the pitching edition of bold predictions on the 2008 Cleveland Indians.

1. At the end of the year, everyone will know the names Adam Miller and Jeff Stevens.

Most people know Adam Miller, the super pitching prospect that has been making his way through the Cleveland organization.

Yet some Indians fans just don’t know how special he can be.

The other guy in this statement is Jeff Stevens, who is best known as—if he’s known about at all by anyone, as the player to be named later in the Brandon Phillips deal.

So how will the Tribe’s best prospect and this relative unknown both make names for themselves this year?

It’s quite simple; you can never tell who will be on the major league roster when the season ends.

If someone told you Jensen Lewis would be playing a major part in the Indians post-season in 2007, you’d probably think they are nuts.

Fact is, as deep as the Indians bullpen is, there is room for improvement.

Plus it’s a 162 game season, injuries happen.

So while we can’t project injuries, let’s project a weak link in the Indians pen.

Aaron Fultz wasn’t real impressive last year. He is nothing more than a situational lefty, and everyone knows it.

But he also got hurt and if he isn’t good in the chances he does get, the Tribe won’t hesitate to let him go. All evidenced by the failures of Roberto Hernandez last year.

This is where Jeff Stevens comes in.

Stevens closed for Team USA after his breakout year in the Indians organization. He will start the year at Buffalo but he could very well finish it in Cleveland.

His fastball maxes out in the low 90’s but he isn’t afraid to challenge hitters and throw down in the zone. His biggest plus is command, his strikeout to walk ratio is also fantastic.

Adam Miller throws a fastball a lot harder than Stevens, and is a heck of a lot more talented.

Which is why, baring any injuries the Indians will not be able to hold him back any longer.

They’ve taken their time with him, but sooner or later the kid will see the field.

That could be this year, be it in the bullpen or the rotation as a spot starter.

Be on the look out for these pair of pitchers. We might not see a Rafael Perez like impact, but they surely will make their names known.

2. Jake Westbrook will win 15 games.

Everyone loves to talk about C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona. But Jake Westbrook is the key to the Indians' rotation.

He struggled in the first half of the 2007 season and then suffered an injury that held him out for awhile. The Indians certainly aren’t complaining because it enabled them to find out about Carmona.

But this year they are counting on him to be the third man in the rotation and return to past form.

Past form is 15 wins, and he should get there.

Jake Westbrook is a sinkerball pitcher that thrives on coaxing contact from hitters. He suffered in 2006 from a lack of defense.

This year he has the slick fielding Asdrubal Cabrera (or if you believe me, Josh Barfield), an improving Jhonny Peralta and steady Casey Blake playing behind him.

While everyone eyes Carmona repeating his 2007 and Sabathia’s quest to defend his Cy Young award, keep an eye on Jake Westbrook.

3. Joe Borowski will save over 35 games.

Wait so you are saying he will save less than what he did last year?

No, not exactly.

Considering how hated Borowski is among Indian’s fans, this is a very bold statement to make.

Borowski led the AL in saves with 45 in 2007, but he also had an ERA over five. He also led the majors in heart attacks and people using “Borowski” as a reason for taking up smoking.

So why am I saying Joe Borowski will hold on to his closers role the entire year?

Same reasons I had for Marte making his future secure.

I believe in him.

Joe might cause you to drink a few more beers at the ballpark, just in case he does blow something, you run the chance of not remembering it.

But he gets the job done.

His high ERA is a product of blowing it big and non-save situations.

He plays by the notion that if you do something, you might as well do it big.

That’s why in 2008 I’m supporting Jumpin’ Joe in his quest to put all us Indian’s fans in a hospital for heart murmurs.


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