With the MLB playoffs just around the corner, several AL teams are preparing their arms for what they hope is a deep postseason run. Houston (99-60) added Justin Verlander to its rotation, Boston (92-67) added David Price to its bullpen, and Cleveland (100-59) is hoping to stretch Danny Salazar into a meaningful role.
As of now, which AL team seems most prepared to handle the pitching rigors of the postseason?
“It’s a good question because you never know what’s going to happen in the postseason, so we always try to guess on paper who looks best poised to make a run – and then of course somebody out of nowhere steps up that we weren’t expecting,” MLB analyst C.J. Nitkowski said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “With that being said, I think on paper, the Indians are probably in the best position because the rotation is really good.”
From Corey Kluber to Carlos Carrasco to Trevor Bauer to Josh Tomlin, the Indians have enough arms to get back to the World Series.
“It’s good enough,” Nitkowski said. “They got some really big arms, they’ve got a lot of swing-and-miss (stuff), and they have an unbelievably deep bullpen. They won’t need all of their starters – so much so that they can put a guy like (Mike) Clevinger into the bullpen to go with the already-great arms if they want to go that route depending on how they decide to play it.
“But they are probably the most dangerous,” Nitkowski continued. “They are the team that, if somebody else does falter, they can slide somebody else in, whether that means in a relief role or even in a starting rotation.”
The Indians did exactly that last season.
“They lost two starters by the end of the year,” Nitkowski said. “They didn’t have Carrasco, and they didn’t have Salazar for the postseason. They lost two arms in their rotation, (but) Corey Kluber really stepped up on short rest.”
Kluber, 31, has been lights-out this season. He is 18-4 with a 2.27 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP, and has 262 strikeouts in 198.2 innings.
“He’s having another phenomenal season and will be in consideration for the Cy Young,” Nitkowski said. “But (the Indians) are probably the most dangerous on paper. Like I said, you never know. You could get the right guy that goes on a run. But if I had to bet or I had to pick a team, I would take the Cleveland Indians right now.”