MLB: Cleveland Indians on the Rise

james lawrenceCorrespondent IJune 17, 2008

The MLB is all about change and turn around. Many times, teams can pull off a big turn around and become a quick contender. With 162 games in a season, there is a lot of time to get your team in motion and to work together to play high caliber baseball.

The crucial time of the season always comes down to who is going to perform better after the All Star break. Some teams start the season out hot and cool off after the break and others get hot after the break and make it their time to shine.

The team that is going to turn heads and make people remember that they went to the ALCS last year is the Cleveland Indians. Cleveland has been steadily improving in every major category.

Their pitching started out absolutely miserable, but C.C Sabathia has been heating up and has improved his record to 5-8 with an ERA of 4.26 on 99 innings pitched.

Other players are stepping up such as Aaron Laffey and the biggest improver Cliff Lee who has an amazing record of 10-1 with an ERA of 2.55. Both of these pitchers have shown guts and skill and after the falling of Westbrook and Carmona, they grew into the rolls they play now.

The bats in Cleveland are stronger then ever. Grady Sizemore is playing at the All Star status that we all expect him to be at. He is batting a heavy .266 with 17 home runs and 40 RBI on 263 at-bats. Grady is second on the home run list in the AL and eighth in the MLB.

The Indians have been struck badly by the injury bug this year. The most notable names on that list are Travis Hafner, Jake Westbrook, Josh Barfield, and most recently Victor Martinez.

Cleveland has players stepping up and making an impact in the absence of these players. Ryan Garko is trying to fill the big shoes of Travis Hafner at DH. Garko has six home runs and 36 RBI on 216 at-bats.

Key Factors:

       1.) The team needs to get to at least .500 before the break. This will allow them to start at a decent spot and allow room for the incline and not have them in too big of a hole.

       2.) C.C Sabathia must remain strong and continue to get better. As the Cy Young Award winner, he needs to be playing at the level that Cliff Lee is pitching at. C.C needs to get his ERA down in about the twos.

       3.) The bats need to stay hot. With Grady hitting, other players need to make up the difference. The team needs to bat around a team average of .230 and make sure not to leave runners on base. They must take advantage of runners in scoring position.

       4.) Close well. The bullpen must be strong and capable of closing out the game and securing the win.