The Indians were led in 2019 by elite infield tandem Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, but the latter didn’t get hot until the second half of the season. Ramirez hit .314 with a 1.031 OPS after June 14 last year and Lindor maintained his steady play to keep the Indians in the MLB playoff hunt.
Their usually dominant pitching staff sputtered, though, with Corey Kluber posting a 5.80 ERA over just seven starts and Carlos Carrasco posting a 6.60 ERA when he returned to action late in the season. Kluber has moved on to Texas and now the staff will be led by Carrasco and Mike Clevinger, both of whom likely used this extended spring to rehab their respective injuries. Cleveland finished third in bullpen ERA (3.76) last year and can rely on a deep arsenal of arms that includes lefty closer Brad Hand.
The Indians are expected to finish behind the Twins again in the AL Central and their World Series futures odds are behind Minnesota as well. DraftKings Sportsbook is giving Cleveland +2200 odds to win the 2020 World Series, which is slightly ahead of the rising White Sox (+2500). Therefore, a $10 bet on the Indians to win it all would pay out $220 if successful.
Cleveland is listed as the fifth favorite to win the American League with +1100 odds at DK. The Indians trail the Twins and Rays (+800), who in turn trail the favored Yankees (+175) and Astros (+350). The Indians are being given +265 odds to supplant the Twins as AL Central champions, with the White Sox (+285) also lurking in the role of challengers.
In 2018, Lindor finished sixth in AL MVP voting and Ramirez finished third, but now oddsmakers expect Lindor to have a better campaign. He’s the third favorite to win MVP with +1000 odds, trailing Mike Trout (+200) and Aaron Judge (+800). Ramirez (+2500) is also expected to be in the race. Clevinger (+1000) is the fourth favorite to win AL CY Young and Carrasco (+2200) is also in the mix.
Indians odds: Futures
Indians betting breakdown
2019 Record: 93-69
Key losses: RP Corey Kluber, RP Tyler Clippard, 2B Jason Kipnis, OF Yasiel Puig, C Kevin Plawecki, RP Nick Goody, RP Dan Otero, RP A.J. Cole
Key additions: RP Emmanuel Clase, OF Delino Deshields, C Sandy Leon, OF Domingo Santana, LP Tyler Olson, 2B Cesar Hernandez
1. SS Francisco Lindor (S)
2. LF Oscar Mercado (R)
3. 1B Carlos Santana (S)
4. DH Franmil Reyes (R)
5. 3B Jose Ramirez (S)
6. RF Jordan Luplow (R)
7. 2B Cesar Hernandez (S)
8. C Roberto Perez (R)
9. CF Delino DeShields (R)
Projected rotation: RP Shane Bieber, RP Carlos Carrasco, RP Zach Plesac, RP Adam Plutko, RP Aaron Civale, RP Mike Clevinger
Projected closer: LHP Brad Hand
Bullpen strengths: Closer Brad Hand is coming off three straight All-Star seasons and 34 saves in 2019. Hand posted a 3.30 ERA in 57.1 IP with 84 SO. Oliver Perez returns as one of the few lefties in the Indians’ staff. He posted a 3.98 ERA last season with 48 SO in 67 games. Nick Wittgren is poised to be the pen’s most reliable option, and he had a career-high 60 SO and a 2.81 ERA in 2019.
Bullpen weaknesses: The young James Karinchak will be relied on more and must command his fastball – the 24-year-old appeared in five MLB games with a solid 1.69 ERA in only 5.1 IP. Adam Cimber may be relied on as a long-term option out of the pen, despite a somewhat inconsistent 2019, though he did have a 6-3 record and 4.45 ERA in 56.2 IP.
Key stats from 2019
- C Roberto Perez hit 24 homers in 2019 despite entering the season with 21 career major-league dingers.
- Perez caught more than 100 games without allowing a passed ball (MLB).
- Between June 14 and the end of the season, 3B Jose Ramirez hit .314 with a 1.031 OPS and 19 HR & 62 RBIs (MLB).
- Zach Plesac led the Majors in pick-offs at first base with six in just 21 starts.