DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - After somewhat of a bumpy ride so far in Cleveland, the second half of the Major League baseball season is here.
Oddly enough, we start with an All-Star.
Francisco Lindor is flashy, he's ebullient, and at 23 he's already a two-time All Star. But he has been struggling for two whole months now, batting just .252. His effort at the plate Tuesday night in Miami was a microcosm of the first half of the season -- swinging and missing and logging way too many strikeouts.
The bad news? It's a swing that's gotten longer by the week. The good news? The talent is certainly there.
At least Lindor can work through things in the lineup, unlike Jason Kipnis, who's been sidelined with a strained right hamstring. He's been plagued by injuries coming out of Goodyear, nursing a shoulder that has clearly impacted his swing. (It has also been slowed down by a stiff neck.) His on-base percentage is down almost 30 points, and even when he gets back, his spot in the lineup might have to take a hit.
Then there's the catcher spot.
Whether it's Yan Gomes or Roberto Perez, the Indians weakness in the lineup has been an obvious one. And for Gomes, it's been an issue for nearly two years. He's great behind the plate and the staff commends his ability to call a game, but the Tribe can't afford a guaranteed out in the order when the postseason rolls around.
With Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco pitching well, the Indians have to find one more spot to feel really confident with their rotation going into the playoffs. Trevor Bauer has been erratic, and a guy I wouldn't even trust with a drone at this point. Meanwhile, Danny Salazar has a long way to go to get back into the rotation full time. This could force the Indians to trade a top prospect for a third starter.
Finally, the Indians just need to get Terry Francona back and healthy.
Tito has been in and out of the hospital and is recovering from a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat. With some of the team's leadership gone, the Indians are in need of a steadying force, and who better than Tito and his two World Series rings to do just that?