Cleveland Indians: Projecting the Starting Lineup for 2012
The Cleveland Indians have made more than a few strides this season. Predicted to finish near the bottom of the AL Central, the Tribe has bucked the odds and has been in first place or in a battle for first place the entire year.
Although they have tailed off in the second half, there is so much to be happy about in regards to the progress the team has made in 2011. The playoffs may not happen this season, but the Indians have a solid foundation for a successful future in 2012 and beyond.
Let's look at what next year's lineup and roster will look like.
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
RHP Justin Masterson
RHP Fausto Carmona
RHP Josh Tomlin
LHP David Huff
Other options: RHP Carlos Carrasco, RHP Jeanmar Gomez, RHP Zach McAllister,
The Indians have incredible starting pitching depth. Jimenez and Masterson will form a great 1-2 punch. Carmona has been stellar for the past month and Tomlin is always going to provide solid starts. Carrasco, Huff, and Gomez will likely battle for the fifth spot. If Huff continues to play like he has, it's tough to take him out considering he would be the only left-hander in the rotation.
LHP Rafael Perez
RHP Joe Smith
LHP Tony Sipp
RHP Vinnie Pestano
RHP Josh Judy
RHP Chen Lee
Closer: Chris Perez
Other Relief Options: LHP Nick Hagadone, RHP Cory Burns, RHP Frank Herrmann
The relief pitching has been fantastic this season. The bullpen has been excellent down the stretch and is one of the Indians' greatest strengths. Pestano has really come on this season and will be a mainstay along with Smith and Sipp. There has been speculation that Perez will be traded or leave in free agency, but I think the Tribe will retain him. Look for Hagadone to get called up midseason.
LF Michael Brantley
2B Jason Kipnis
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
C Carlos Santana
DH Travis Hafner
RF Shin Soo-Choo
1B Matt LaPorta
3B Lonnie Chisenhall
CF Ezequiel Carrera/ Free Agent
Bench: OF Carrera/Free Agent, INF Jason Donald, C Lou Marson, 3B Jack Hannahan
The lineup has had its share of struggles this season. Injuries have hit the Indians hard on offense this season, with Choo, Hafner, Sizemore, Kipnis and now Brantley all missing significant time. I can't see the Indians picking up Grady Sizemore's option. If they can stay healthy, the lineup should be much improved next season.
Players Likely to Be Called Up from Minors
Depending on injuries and how the team performs, Cleveland has options in the minor leagues to bring up and fill voids. Here are some players who will likely be called up at one point or another.
2B Cord Phelps
OF Jerad Head
OF Thomas Neal
1B Beau Mills