- Paul Swydan, ESPN Insider
Last season the Cleveland Indians started the year 8-10 and, despite winning one contest by a 19-6 count, had been outscored by six runs in the process. This April, the Indians have started 8-10 and, despite winning one contest by a 12-6 count, have been outscored by seven runs in the process. Last April they were mired in the 20s in the ESPN Power Rankings all month, and this week they have slid back to 22.
Last year, the Indians turned things around and earned a postseason berth. This year, the Indians will turn things around, and are still on the short list for earning a trip to the playoffs. Let's consider why.
The starting rotation has had its fair share of bad luck in the early going. The batting average on balls in play against their starters is a league-high .362, which is 27 points higher than the D-backs, the No. 2 team. In fact, the difference between first and second place is roughly the same as the difference between second and 12th place. Now, sometimes that just means your pitchers aren't very good, but the Indians' starting pitchers also have sixth-best strikeout rate in the majors. Overall, the numbers bear out in the difference between their ERA (4.25) and FIP (3.47), which is the second-highest in MLB.