Notes from the Wigwam: Losses mount
Tribe endures 0-6 week as losing streak swells to seven games
To call this past week a rough one would be a massive understatement. Essentially nothing went right for the Cleveland Indians as the team went 0-6 and is now 30-32 overall and 5 ½ games behind the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central.
The Indians are currently in the midst of a 7-game losing streak, and the team’s struggles were perhaps no more apparent than over this past weekend when they were swept in a three-game set by the Tigers.
Plain and simple, it was bad. Very bad.
The other unfortunate news of this past week was that Zach McAllister was placed on the 15-day disabled list with soreness in his middle right finger. McAllister has been one of the most consistent performers on the team, and this news unfortunately came at just the worst possible time.
With that being said, let’s regretfully take a look back at the week that was for the reeling Tribe…
June 3 at New York, L 7-4 (WP: Kelley, LP: Masterson)
June 4 at New York, L 4-3 (WP: Phelps, LP: Kazmir)
June 5 at New York, L 6-4 (WP: Sabathia, LP: Kluber)
June 7 at Detroit, L 7-5 (WP: Verlander, LP: Jimenez)
June 8 at Detroit, L 6-4 (WP: Porcello, LP: Carrasco)
June 9 at Detroit, L 4-1 (WP: Alvarez, LP: Masterson)
Player of the Week
Nick Hagadone —Relief pitcher
3 G, 3 IP, 1 H, 1 BB
You know it’s been a rough week when your top performer is a relief pitcher, who only pitched a combined three innings during that week. However, that unfortunately is the case for the Indians as there just was no consistent performance really from any other player other than Hagadone. Hagadone’s strong performance over the week has to be considered a major positive because we all know of the immense left-handed bullpen problems that have persisted for the Indians this year. It’s still only three games, and it’s too early to declare that Hagadone is fixed and that he can be the strong left-handed reliever that the Indians so desperately need, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. Of all the left-handed bullpen options that the Indians have, Hagadone does seem to have the best stuff and makeup. It’s always been a matter of him harnessing his stuff to get the most out of his potential, and this past week was definitely an example where he did just that. The key for Hagadone will be replicating this past week’s success over the course of an entire season. If he is able to do that, well, the Indians then receive a colossal boost.
Minor League Player of the Week
Carlos Moncrief —Right field, Akron
6 G, 12-for-25, 7 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 SB
Everyone knows the outstanding tools that Moncrief possesses, but he’s never really been able to translate those tools into elite performances, but it appears as if something may have suddenly clicked. Remember that the 24-year-old Moncrief has only been a position player since 2010 as he was previously a pitcher. He’s displayed some nice speed, defensive ability and power in the past, but it’s only been in short glimpses. However, he is now on an amazing tear, and he seems to be possibly on his way to establishing himself as one of the better outfield prospects in the entire Indians system. Moncrief is currently in the midst of a 10-game hit streak, and he’s definitely enjoying his best professional season so far. In 58 games, Moncrief has gone 61-for-217 (.281) with nine doubles, seven home runs and 25 RBI. Moncrief was at his absolute best this past week as the left-handed hitting outfielder collected 12 hits in six games. Moncrief still has much work to do before he could become a legitimate Major League option, but he’s definitely a legitimate five-tool type, and he is certainly turning some heads with his performance. He’ll definitely be a player to watch as the season progresses.
A rough week
Nick Swisher — First baseman
6 G, 1-for-23, 1 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 7 K.
Do you ever just look at a player and think he needs a day off? Well, that’s the thought that enters my head when I look at Swisher. There’s really no logical explanation for Swisher’s struggles other than the fact that he may simply be trying too much. As a seasoned veteran, Swisher has been through his battles, and he’s definitely gone through losing streaks that are similar to the current struggles that the Indians are facing. While there’s no telling how Swisher is internalizing the struggles, it could be that he is taking it upon himself to do a bit too much when he’s at the plate. That would at least somewhat explain what was an absolutely atrocious week for the switch-hitter. Swisher will get it right, and he definitely will come around as he’s just far too much of a professional hitter not to right the ship. However, the bottom line is that his current struggles are just another reason why the Indians have gone just 4-15 in their last 19 games.
To further illustrate Swisher’s struggles, .264 was Swisher’s batting average last Monday when the Indians opened a three-game series against the New York Yankees. However, that average has now dipped to .239 since then, which is almost a .030 drop. That definitely seems to speak to just how bad it’s been for the switch-hitting Swisher.
News & notes
— Indians right-hander Zach McAllister was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a right-finger sprain. The reports are that McAllister felt pain during his last start against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 2, which led to him being unable to throw his curveball. Plain and simple, this is a colossal loss for the Indians. Even if everything goes well and the finger issue ends up ultimately being something minor, beign without McAllister for a few weeks is still a sizeable loss for the Indians as McAllister has been arguably their most consistent starter all season. In 65 2/3 innings of work, McAllister has a 3.43 ERA. Aside from his last outing against the Rays (five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings), McAllister has allowed no more than three earned runs in a start and also pitched at least five innings. At this point, the Indians front office has to be praying that finger soreness proves to be just that and nothing else major. While it may seem unlikely that the Indians will have any legitimate chance of competing in the AL Central after their play as of late, it’s still early June, and there’s plenty of time. However, it does seem fair to suggest that the Indians will definitely have no chance of competing if they go a long time without the healthy, effective McAllister that we saw earlier in the year.
— While his last start against the Rays was not all that great, it’s evident that right-hander Corey Kluberseems to be a different pitcher than the Kluber we saw in 2012. He allowed four earned runs against the Rays, and his ERA now sits at 4.56, but how can you not be impressed with what Kluber has done so far? With 54 strikeouts and just seven walks on the season, Kluber is walking just 1.6 batters per nine innings while striking out 9.9. Those numbers are very impressive, but the most impressive thing about Kluber is that it seems as if he’s actually pitched better than some of his numbers suggest. According to FanGraphs, Kluber has a FIP of 3.39 and an xFIP of 2.84. That’s astonishing to see and suggests that he’s actually been rather unlucky. So, with that in mind, what happens to Kluber when his luck takes a turn in the positive direction? I have never been a big Kluber fan, but I’m starting to buy in. He’s given the team a big boost, which is especially positive considering that it appears as if another Indians pitcher may not be ready for the Show…
— Of course, the pitcher I am referring to is right-hander Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco returned to the Indians’ rotation on Saturday against the Tigers, but the results were once again not pretty. Carrasco threw 87 pitches across four innings, and he also allowed 10 hits and four earned runs in that span. What’s so confusing about all of this is the fact that it seems as if Carrasco should be ready to excel at the Major League level. For years, the right-hander has dominated at Triple-A. In fact, he made his Triple-A debut in 2008 — five years ago. There has really been one stint in Carrasco’s Major League career where he seemed to show that he could be a capable starter and that was in June 2011 when Carrasco went 4-1 with a 0.98 ERA across five starts from June 7 to June 29. However, Carrasco has never been able to replicate that kind of success since that point. Perhaps he just needs some time to settle in, but it’s hard to be encouraged by what we’ve seen so far. The loss of McAllister is a big one for this club, and it will be up to Carrasco to help make up for that loss in McAllister’s absence.
— If the Indians do decide to look for an internal offensive boost, the first place to start might be third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. Since being demoted to Triple-A Columbus, Chisenhall has done nothing but raked at an almost ridiculous rate. In 21 games with the Clippers, Chisenhall has gone 33-for-84 with five doubles, two triples, six home runs and 22 RBI. He’s also shown improved plate discipline as he’s walked 11 times and struck out only 16 times. Of course, raking in the minor leagues is nothing new for Chisenhall as he has a pretty good track record in that regard, but this particular stint seems a little different simply for the fact that he has been so dominant. If nothing else, it might be worth exploring a Chisenhall promotion because he is so hot. If he were to be promoted, then perhaps there could be some hope that he might be able to carry that hot streak over to Cleveland and help the team win a few games. The other key benefit is that Chisenhall would also be an upgrade defensively at third base over Mark Reynolds, who seems to have cost the Indians their fair share of runs with his poor glove. All in all, it seems like a move that should be made. The Indians are two games below .500, so they need to be exhausting every option, and this seems to be the most logical one.
— In their continued effort to find left-handed relief help, the Indians signed J.C. Romero to a minor league contract on Friday. Romero has really not been an effective pitcher since the 2010 season and he’s also now 37 years old, but the Tribe needs all the help they can get and this move seems to reflect that.
— Some good news in regard to Chris Perez. It seems as if he will start throwing this week, which is the next step in his return from the disabled list, which is sure to be rather interesting.
Steve can be reached via email at email@example.com.