The 2020 MLB season is now a 60-game dash, starting on July 23 and ending, hopefully, with a full-size postseason in October. Between now and the start of the season, we’ll be giving quick capsule previews of each team, reminding you of where things stood back in Spring Training and where they stand now as we embark on what is sure to be the strangest season in baseball history. Next up: The Cleveland Indians roster and schedule:
INDIANS ROSTER (projected)
When the season opens on July 23-24, teams can sport rosters of up to 30 players, with a minimum of 25. Two weeks later, rosters must be reduced to 28 and then, two weeks after that, they must be reduced to 26. Teams will be permitted to add a 27th player for doubleheaders.
In light of that, there is a great degree of latitude for which specific players will break summer camp. For now, though, here are who we expect to be on the Indians roster to begin the season, give or take:
The Indians struggled at the plate a great deal in 2019 and a big reason for that was José Ramírez’s horrendous first half. He righted the ship in the second half and, one assumes, that first half was an anomaly. Between him, hopefully, being his usual self, Jason Kipnis‘ departure in favor of César Hernández, and full seasons from Oscar Mercado and Franmil Reyes, there’s a decent chance that the offense is better in 2020. Beyond those guys and, obviously, all-world shortstop Francisco Lindor, the name of the game for the Indians on offense is depth. They have a lot of pretty-decent-but-not-great dudes on the roster, particularly in the outfield, who will cycle in and out of the lineup given the expanded roster in place in the early going.
The rotation has seen a lot of changes over the past year — bye-bye Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — but Shane Bieber is an emerging ace and, when healthy, both Clevinger and Carrasco are more-than-solid starters. Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale were pleasant surprises last year. If they can maintain that level of performance in this shortened season the Indians will prove a lot of people who decried the trades of Bauer and Kluber wrong. Bullpen wise the loss of Emmanuel Clase due to PED suspension was a blow — he has a 100 m.p.h. cutter and was the centerpiece of the Kluber trade — but there is a lot of depth in this pen. It’s a solid group.
All-in-all, the Indians are a step or two back from where they were when they were winning three straight division titles between 2016 and 2018, but this was still a 93-win club last year and they still play in a pretty weak division. They likely don’t have the guns to win a shootout with the Twins, but there is every reason to believe that they can fight for a Wild Card spot.
Every team will play 60 games. Teams will be playing 40 games against their own division rivals and 20 interleague games against the corresponding geographic division from the other league. Six of the 20 interleague games will be “rivalry” games.
Indians home stands will be July 24-29 (Royals, White Sox), August 5-6 (Reds), August 11-12 (Cubs), August 21-26 (Tigers, Twins), September 4-10 (Brewers, Royals), and September 21-27 (White Sox, Pirates).