The Cleveland Indians lived up to expectations until it mattered most. The Indians had many many moments to remember in 2017.  At the top of that list of memorable moments was winning 22 consecutive games, but the Indians wanted more. After losing in five games to the New York Yankees it’s World Series or bust for the Indians in 2018.

2018 Cleveland Indians Roster

Much of the core that won 102 games is returning, but fans have to wonder what could have been in 2017 with the most talented Indians teams in recent years. But some think the Indians have a glaring problem. Many players are not returning to the team like Bryan Shaw, Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce, and Austin Jackson.  

Bryan Shaw

Let’s start with Shaw. Shaw threw 76.2 innings over 79 appearances, which is tied for the most in the MLB with Royals pitcher Peter Moylan for 2017.  Shaw chewed up innings when the Indians needed him to most. His ERA of 3.52 over that many innings will absolutely be missed.

There is a very simple solution for Shaw’s absence, and his name is Tyler Olson.  In 30 appearances Olson gave up zero runs. Sure 30 appearances and 79 appearances are way different but it’s pretty hard to argue that Olson can’t fill up a decent amount of the vacant innings this season after Shaw’s departure.

Another person to fill those innings could be Danny Salazar. Salazar started 19 games in 2017 for Cleveland going 5-6 with a 4.28 ERA, maybe a change is exactly what Salazar needs. He can provide valuable innings out of the bullpen for the Indians and he can get a chance to thrive in a new role.

But then there’s a new problem, who’s the fifth man in the rotation? Mike Clevinger went 12-6 in 21 starts for the Indians, and now looks to be the time to move him into the rotation full time. His 3.11 ERA is more than one run per nine innings better than Salazar’s.

Jay Bruce

Last season there were two Jay Bruce’s, New York Jay Bruce and Cleveland Jay Bruce. While in New York, Bruce hit 29 home runs over 103 games (one home run every 3.55 games). While in Cleveland, Bruce hit seven home runs over 43 games (one home run every 6.14 games). In New York, Bruce got slightly more than one hit a game, but in Cleveland, Bruce had .86 hits per game.

The solution to losing Bruce hinges on if Michael Brantley can stay healthy.  Brantley has proven that when healthy, he is a star.  He finished third in MVP voting in 2014 but he has struggled to stay healthy having only played in 101 games in the past two seasons. However, they will struggle to replace Bruce’s power as Brantley is not as much of a power hitter as Bruce.

Slamtana and Jackson

The Indians are set to replace Carlos Santana with Yonder Alonso.  In 2017, Alonso had a better batting average, a higher on base percentage, and more home runs than Santana. Alonso is far cheaper than Santana.

A platoon of players will replace Austin Jackson.  Some of those players could be Lonnie Chisenhall, Rajai Davis, and Melvin Upton. The Indians may have lost players, but they didn’t lose much that they can’t replace.

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