They weren’t supposed to be that close to a World Series Championship. The injuries that depleted their roster would make us just lucky to be in the playoffs, let alone winning the first American League pennant since 1997. The players that emerged were supposed to be fringe prospects that could be serviceable, but you couldn’t count on them. The coaching was suspect and with a down year could potentially put a future Hall of Fame Manager on the hot seat. Yet…after all of that, the Cleveland Indians were 1 WIN AWAY from winning the Franchise’s first World Series since 1948. And while the loss in the World Series to the Cubs stung, the Indians and their fans shouldn’t hang their heads down over this. What they did was nothing short of miraculous and shouldn’t be forgotten, given everything that happened. In 2016 we learned more about the character of the Cleveland Indians franchise than we did by the pure potential of the team in terms of talent. In this Season Wrap-up we will see how the Indians got to the doorstep of winning the Fall Classic.
The Indians started the year at home against the Boston Red Sox, a team a lot of analysts had picked to win the AL East. That series would have 2 postponed games and the Indians would struggle out of the gate. The Indians were primarily led by Josh Tomlin who went 3-0 with a 3.18 ERA. Corey Kluber would start out the year in April going 1-3, leaving a lot of people to wonder if the Indians were going to get the 2015 Kluber, who pitched well, but just had no luck in terms of run support. Michael Brantley would return late in the month of April, but would only be on the roster for 11 games before suffering a setback that would keep him out the rest of the season. The Indians would go 10-11 in April, leaving many fans to wonder if 2016 was going to be just another mediocre year.
But the end of the year caused some roadblocks for the Indians going into the playoffs. Danny Salazar had gone through shoulder problems in the 2nd Half that would put the Indians down one in their rotation. Then Carlos Carrasco got in the way of a line drive that would break his hand, ending his season. The Indians would go on to rely on Kluber, Josh Tomlin (after a horrible month of August), Trevor Bauer and Terry Francona’s “bullpen days” that would utilize the entire bullpen to get them through the game. Going into the postseason, very few had the Indians really making it past the first round against the Red Sox. Even Indians beat writers doubted their chances.
Now we all know how the World Series went down, the Indians against overwhelming odds and almost every analyst saying the Cubs would easily win this series, would somehow have a 3-1 lead against Chicago. While the Indians would blow that lead, Game 7 of the World Series was the definition of the Cleveland Indians. Down 6-1, the Indians wouldn’t quit and claw their way back before Rajai Davis, who had struggled all postseason would hit a game tying Home Run off Aroldis Chapman, who before Davis hadn’t given up a Home Run since he arrived in Chicago. The Indians would one swing away from their first World Series Championship since 1948. Even down 2 in the 10th, the Indians would continue to fight, scoring one and have the winning run at the plate before the Cubs finished the series once and for all.
While the Indians have decisions to make on bringing back Rajai Davis and Mike Napoli, I’m going to save my offseason predictions. I mean nothing really happens until the Winter Meetings, but rest assured, you’ll see what I’d do and more importantly how the Indians have plenty of money to spend this offseason.
Guys…the Indians weren’t supposed to get here. All the series of events throughout the season screamed that the Indians were lucky to even get to the playoffs. Yet somehow, someway the Indians were 1 swing away from a World Series Championship. This is only the beginning Tribe fans, the future is indeed bright for the Cleveland Indians. WE WILL BE BACK…I guarantee it.