5 Lessons Learned from Indians-Blue Jays Opening Series
The matchup featured two teams with a lot of new pieces including Michael Bourn, Drew Stubbs and Brett Myers on the Indians side.
The Indians showed us quite a bit in the first series of the season; the improved offense being the biggest thing.
But what exactly did we learn about the Tribe from their first series of the season?
Here are five things they taught us with their 2-1 series victory over the Blue Jays.
All 2013 stats courtesy of Clevelandindians.com unless otherwise noted.
All stats from previous seasons courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
The Team Will Strike Out...a Lot.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The Indians have a couple of strikeout machines on the roster this season.
Based on their strikeout percentages from 2012, over a 162-game season, the trio of Stubbs, Reynolds and Bourn would strike out 591 times.
Through three games, the Indians have struck out 26 times—11 of which came from the trio mentioned above (per Clevelandindians.com).
Though it's not quite as much as the Astros, who are currently setting a blistering pace with 43 team strikeouts, it's quite a bit, and the total is bound to rise significantly over the course of the 2013 season (per MLB.com).
The Indians are going to score runs either way, but curtailing their strikeout totals would go a long way toward establishing the team as a legitimate contender.
The Revamped Offense Will Score Plenty of Runs
Those four figure to have a prominent impact on the offense, and it showed in this first series.
The aforementioned players alone accounted for seven of the team's 15 runs, five of 14 RBI and four of 12 extra-base hits (per Clevelandindians.com).
All in all, the Indians offense scored 15 runs on 31 hits. The Indians starting nine also collected 13 extra base hits including five home runs (per Clevelandindians.com).
Familiar faces Santana and Michael Brantley are pacing the offense through the team's first three games.
Brantley has 11 at-bats thus far and is slashing .545/.643/.545 with an RBI and three runs scored (per Clevelandindians.com).
Through 13 at-bats, Santana has posted a triple-slash line of .462/.500/.846 with a HR, a pair of doubles, two RBI and two runs scored (per Clevelandindians.com)
The Indians will need to remain healthy. If they do, the team could be a legitimate threat in the AL Wild Card race.
Even so, a reasonable expectation for the Indians this season would be around 700 runs scored.
Ubaldo Jiménez May Have a Bounce-Back Year
Ubaldo Jiménez turned in an impressive performance Wednesday against a star-studded Blue Jays lineup.
The 29-year-old righty went six innings allowing one run on three hits—including a home run—and two walks while striking out six (per Clevelandindians.com).
Jiménez was on point all game and threw 64 of his 103 pitches—62 percent—for strikes.
Aside from his control, what was telling of Jiménez's impending success was his velocity.
According to Brooks Baseball's Pitch f/x tool, Jiménez's fastball averaged 93.02 mph on Wednesday.
Last year in April, Jiménez fastball was averaging 92.79 mph.
It may not seem like that big of a jump, but it's still important.
By June of 2012, Jiménez's fastball was averaging 93.83 mph, a jump of 1.04 mph from the start of last season.
Using that same jump in velocity this season would give Jiménez an average fastball velocity of 94.06 mph by June.
That 94.06 mph average velocity would represent the highest velocity for Jiménez since July of 2011 (94.78 mph).
While 94 mph is a far cry from the 96.57 mph Jiménez averaged over his banner season in 2010, it shows that the young right-hander is taking a step in the right direction toward regaining his former dominance.
All Pitchf/x data in this slide courtesy of Brooksbaseball.net.
Brett Myers Is Still Brett Myers
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Brett Myers is going to be the hinge that holds this pitching staff together.
Myers promptly fueled speculation around an already suspect rotation in his first start Thursday night.
Over just five innings, Myers allowed seven runs on seven hits—including four home runs—and two walks.
Myers didn't have much working for him Thursday night, and to top off the recap of his disappointing performance, Myers was unable to register a single strikeout (per Clevelandindians.com).
Myers' career stats as a starter aren't overly encouraging either.
In his 11-year career, Myers has made 249 starts allowing a 4.27 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP with ratios of 7.2 K/9, 2.97 BB/9, 2.44 K/BB and 9.08 H/9 (per Baseball-Reference.com).
The problem with Myers being the third-best starter on the Indians staff is that when he's off, he's really off.
Myers is dominant in wins, allowing just a 2.35 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. However, in losses, Myers allows a 7.03 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP (per Baseball-Reference.com).
Myers' first start with the Indians did little to gain the trust of an already skeptical fanbase.
The Tribe Will Go as Far as Their Pitching Takes Them
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Even with all of the additions on the offensive side, the Indians will only go as far as their pitching staff can carry them.
With fifth starter Scott Kazmir already on the 15-day DL, the Indians selected top prospect Trevor Bauer to take his place in this Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays (per Clevelandindians.com).
The starting rotation could take a massive leap forward if Bauer comes up and pitches to his potential.
Even a remotely successful season out of the 22-year-old Bauer would be a positive for the Tribe, who lack a strong presence in the middle and at the front of their rotation.
If you needed any further indication of the pitching staff being the glue holding this team together, take into consideration the performances by each game's starting pitcher.
Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jiménez turned in masterful performances, and the Indians were able to win both games—4-1 and 3-2, respectively (per Clevelandindians.com).
Tonight, Myers turned in a dismal starting effort which resulted in a 10-8 loss.
The Indians will turn to Zach McAllister in Friday's game who could turn into a nice surprise for baseball fans should he continue to build upon his 2012 season which included a 4.24 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP over 22 starts (per Baseball-Reference.com).
By season's end, though, the success of the Indians as a team will be largely determined by the performance put forth by their starting rotation.