Awarding the Cleveland Indians' 3 Stars and 3 Goats for April
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The Cleveland Indians finished the month of April at a mediocre 11-13, but there were some standout performers to go along with some "goats" who under performed.
This slideshow will detail my choices for the three stars for the opening month as well as the players who didn't deliver for the Tribe. Taking a page from the NHL, I will start with the No. 3 star, who will be the player who was the worst of the best if you will.
The three goats will begin with the No. 3 goat who will be the best of the worst. The No. 1 goat will be my pick for the worst of the worst.
Let's start with honorable mentions for standout performers.
Honorable Mentions: 3 Stars
Will Corey Kluber (right) stabilize the back end of the Indians rotation?
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In no particular order, the following three performed well but just missed out on being one of the three stars:
Ryan Raburn: .320/.370/.620 slash line, 4 HR, 8 RBI
If I were picking the stars of the last two games, Raburn would be the landslide winner of the No. 1 star. Raburn slugged two home runs against the Phillies on Tuesday night. It was the second consecutive night he slugged two home runs, and he has gone 6-for-13 with his four homers and eight runs batted in the last 10 games.
Raburn has been huge this month in helping to fill in at right field when Drew Stubbs moved to center to replace Michael Bourn (.333/.375/.600, 2 HR, 7 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 10 games played) who went on the disabled list April 17 (retroactive to April 15) due to a laceration on his right finger.
Corey Kluber: 2-0, 2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 11 SO, 0 BB, 12 IP
Kluber was rock solid (7 IP, 7 H, 6 K, 0 BB, 2 R 2 ER) in his only start against the Royals on Sunday and has been solid in his relief stints also. With Brett Myers struggling to epic proportions to go along with Carlos Carrasco and Scott Kazmir's inabilities to deliver consistently, Kluber could prove to be very valuable to the Indians' starting rotation.
With more outings like his last start, Kluber could very well become one of the three stars in future months. He didn't log enough innings to make the list for this month.
Joe Smith: 8 IP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 9 K, 0 BB, 1 SV, 0 BS, 2 HLD (holds)
Many relievers would deserve mention here, but Smith was probably the best and most consistent of the bunch in the month of April.
You need a magnifying glass to look at Smith's numbers for the month, and he continues to be a formidable cog in the three-pronged bullpen group of himself, Vinnie Pestano (8 IP, 0-0, 2.25 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 8 K, 4 BB, 4 HLD) and closer Chris Perez (8 IP, 1.13 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 9 K, 3 BB, 3 SV, 1 BS).
Let's take a look at the players that really shined in the month of April.
3rd Star: Justin Masterson
Justin Masterson started out on fire but has cooled as of late.
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April stats: 40.1 IP, 4-2, 3.12 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 8.70 K/9, 3.79 BB/9, 2.29 K/BB
Masterson started out like a house on fire for his first three starts, winning all three while posting a miniscule ERA of 0.41 with a WHIP of 0.82. His last three starts have seen him cool considerably while going 1-2 with a 6.46 ERA and 1.82 WHIP.
Masterson has a low (2.29) K/BB number underlying the chief reason for the decrease in performance—lack of command. Despite his slide, Masterson has turned in a solid opening month and has so far proved to be the Tribe's clear-cut ace and deserves to be the No. 3 star.
2nd Star: Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana has been the Indians' most consistent player in April.
Jason Miller/Getty Images
April stats: .389/.476/.722 slash line, 5 HR, 9 2B, 13 RBI, 14 R, 12 BB
Santana leads the Indians in batting average, doubles, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS and is second on the team in home runs, walks, runs and runs batted in.
He has probably been the most consistent performer for the Indians, but he hasn't had as many big hits as the No.1 star for the month. If Santana had more clutch hits, he would have garnered No. 1 star honors.
1st Star: Mark Reynolds
Reynolds gets props after his 11th-inning game winner against the Blue Jays.
April stats: .301/.368/.651 slash line, 8 HR, 5 2B, 22 RBI, 17 R, 22 K, 10 BB
Reynolds has not only delivered in the power department, but he has only been surprisingly consistent with a strong batting average. He leads the Indians in home runs, runs batted in and runs.
Yes, he has struck out 22 times in only 23 games, but he has also walked 10 times, third most on the team. If he keeps up this strikeout pace, he will fan 162 times for the season which would be far less than some of his 200-strikeout seasons. If he keeps up this power production, this rate would be something Indians fans could live with.
What garners Reynolds first star honors over Santana is the fact that Reynolds has delivered two game-winning home runs. He belted a go-ahead game winner in the 11th inning to beat the Blue Jays 3-2 on April 2 and slugged another game-winner in the seventh inning to propel the team to a 5-4 win against the Astros.
Now that we know who shined the brightest for the month, let's take a look at who was not on their game, starting with three who just avoided the "goat" list.
Dishonorable Mentions: Goats
The Indians lineup will be much stronger if Cabrera keeps up his latest surge.
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The following escaped being chosen for the "goat" list and are in no particular order:
Asdrubal Cabrera: .226/.286/.369 slash line, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 4 2B, 1 3B, 10 R, 7 BB, 22 K
Cabrera is really picking it up as of late and is currently on a nine-game hitting streak and is hitting .351 with seven runs batted in over his last 10.
His recent hot streak really shows how bad he has been up until the last 10 games as he has only increased his batting average to .226 even with his latest surge.
Scott Kazmir: 0-1, 2 GS, 8 IP, 8.64 ERA, 2.16 WHIP, 5.40 BB/9, 1.60 K/BB
Kazmir, who won the fifth-starter job after a stellar spring training, has just recently returned from a stint on the disabled list due to an abdominal injury, but his starts have been pretty bad so far. He has given up three home runs in only 8.1 innings and has walked five in those innings.
Kazmir doesn't have overpowering stuff, so he needs to nibble at the corners of the strike zone, and so far he has lacked the command that he needs.
Ubaldo Jimenez: 1-2, 5 GS, 24 IP, 7.13 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 4.87 BB/9, 1.46 K/BB
You mean there were pitchers that deserve the "goat" list more than Ubaldo?
Yes, there were, and they will be detailed on the next few slides.
That, and Jimenez bounced back with a very good start (7 IP, 0 R, 4 K, 2 BB) on Monday, getting his first win on the year.
Ubaldo threw a higher percentage (67 percent) of strikes during that game and showed a lot more command in the strike zone. Jimenez needs to deliver more consistent starts and string together effective ones.
Let's take a look at the three worst underperformers for the Indians for April.
Goat No. 3: Jason Kipnis
Tribe fans would like to see a lot more of this for the rest of the year.
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
April stats: .200/.269/.286 slash line, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 2B, 6 R, 5 SB, 2 CS, 7 BB, 21 K
The immensely talented Kipnis has been a huge disappointment so far on the young season. He has picked it up a little lately, hitting safely in seven of his last 10 games, but he is still only hitting .244 over that span.
With that meager batting average lately, Kipnis has actually increased his average to .200 on the season, and he hit his first home run against the Royals on Monday night.
If Kipnis is able to perform to his capabilities, he will provide some more power and speed to a potentially potent lineup.
Goat No. 2: Brett Myers
Will Brett Myers' injury open the door for Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer?
Jason Miller/Getty Images
April stats: 0-3, 3 GS, 21.1 IP, 8.02 ERA, 10 HR, 1.59 WHIP, 2.11 BB/9, 2.40 K/BB
Brett Myers went on the disabled list on April 21 with inflammation in his right elbow, so there may be a medical reason why Myers put up such god-awful numbers in his four appearances so far this season.
Myers' last two starts (11 IP, 5 ER) definitely improved upon his first two appearances (10.1 IP, 14 ER), but Myers was definitely one of the worst players on the Indians in the first month of the season.
Myers' injury may open the door for Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer, so it will be interesting what happens to Myers once he returns from the DL.
Goat No. 1: Carlos Carrasco
Carlos Carrasco has the ability, but will he seize his opportunity to show it?
Jason Miller/Getty Images
April stats: 0-1,1 GS, 3.2 IP, 17.18 ERA, 2 HR, 2.45 WHIP, 2 HR, 4.91 BB/9, 1 K/BB
He only started one game, and it was horrible, but it's more of how Carrasco reacted to the adversity during this start that earns him the king of all the goats.
After giving up his second home run in three innings on April 9 against the Yankees, the last one to Robinson Cano, Carrasco hit Kevin Youkilis and was ejected. Per MLB.com, Carrasco claimed he didn't want to hit anybody, but also admitted that it didn't "look good." Carrasco was subsequently suspended eight games for plunking Youkilis.
It wasn't the first time Carrasco has been suspended for hitting an opposing player. Before that start against the Yankees, Carrasco had just finished a five-game suspension for throwing at the Royals' Billy Butler in a 2011 game.
So, after coming back from Tommy John surgery and missing all of 2012 because of it, Carrasco served his five-game suspension for the 2011 incident, returned to the mound and plunked another player and as a result got suspended again.
Carrasco is gaining a very bad reputation as a headhunter and as someone who can't deal with adversity. If he can get this in check, he could be a very good pitcher in the majors because, as manager Terry Francona said (per MLB.com) in regards to Carrasco after the incident, Carrasco has "electric stuff."
Thanks for reading! I welcome any comments you may have. I will give my picks for the three stars and three goats for each month. Stay tuned!