CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - This will be Terry Francona;s 8th season in Cleveland, and he’s made the playoffs 4 times.
This should be number 5, mainly because Tito is the best manager in baseball.
No one is more equipped to deal with all the changes---60-game schedule, 30-man roster, no minor-league teams to draw from, the DH in both parks.
In 20 years as a big-league manager, Francona has seen and juggled it all, and that will never be more important.
4) As in switch hitters.
The top 4 batters in the lineup--Cesar Hernandez, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor and Carllos Santana--are all switch-hitters.
We may have never seen that before.
It’ll be a big advantage, especially against relievers who now have to face 3 batters minimum.
.”Those are our 4 of our best guys,” Francona said.
3) Their top 3 starting pitchers---Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco---are all healthy, established and in their prime.
You may have thought losing Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer spelled trouble, but pitching is still the team’s strength.
“The rotation led by Shane Bieber, who I believe is going to win the American League Cy Young Award, is plenty good enough to win the American League Central,” said Jon Morosi of MLB Network.
2) The number of AL Central teams over .500 last season.
The Twins and the Tribe.
Which means half their games will be against the lowly Tigers, Royals and White Sox.
Yes, Chicago should be better, but Detroit and KC are terrible.
Throw in the Pirates from the NL Central and that’s 34 very winnable games out of 60.
1) The number of years probably left in Lindor’s time here.
He’s a free agent after 2021, and almost certain to be traded this winter.
With Santana also in his walk year, this is the Tribe’s last chance, and best chance, to win a title.