Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
2013 Draft Prep Guide
Gameday Inactives
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Cleveland Indians

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

The Cleveland Indians were one of the biggest surprises in baseball last season, winning 92 games and finishing just one behind the AL Central-winning Tigers. And they did so despite an early rotation mess, which saw Brett Myers (three games started) and Carlos Carrasco (seven games started) struggle with injuries, and would-be top prospect Trevor Bauer battle with command, tinker with his mechanics, and ultimately pitch just 17 innings for Cleveland in 2013.

Play on CBSSports.com in 2014!
Baseball Commissioner
Get the premium experience you deserve! Create a customized league with exclusive news and tools.
Start your league!

But thanks to a strong year from Justin Masterson (14 wins, a 3.45 ERA, 195 strikeouts in 193 innings), a bounceback campaign from Ubaldo Jimenez (13 wins, 3.30 ERA, 194 strikeouts in 182 2/3 IP), an improbable comeback by reclamation project Scott Kazmir (4.04 ERA, 162 strikeouts in 158 innings), and potential-fulfilling performances from Corey Kluber (3.85 ERA), Danny Salazar (3.12 ERA), and Zach McAllister (3.75 ERA), the Indians didn't just persevere -- they surged.

On the offensive side, the Indians had just two batters (Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana) hit over 20 home runs, while none of the regular starters batted over .300. But everyone chipped in here and there, and most of the starting lineup returns in 2014 for another run at the Central title. One player to keep an eye on is Yan Gomes, who could see plenty of at-bats at catcher (his 3.59 catcher ERA last season ranked ninth among backstops who appeared in 75 or more games), with Carlos Santana moving ... somewhere (more on that in a second). Gomes hit 11 home runs in just 293 at-bats last season, with a .294 average and .826 OPS. He can also play first base and has eight major league appearances at third, as well. That flexibility should get him to at least 450-500 at-bats this season, which could place him in the prestigious "Indians 20 Home Run Club."

As for Santana, reports have him committed to playing third base this year, which would be bad news for Lonnie Chisenhall. But Santana made eight errors in 23 games at third in the winter leagues, and could just as easily shift over to first base, with Nick Swisher going to the outfield. Or Santana could slot in at DH, occasionally catching, and bounce to first, or even third, throughout the season. For now, we'll project him as a DH (it makes the most sense, as a good amount of Mike Aviles' value comes from his ability to play third, and Chisenhall should get one last crack at it), but the Indians have plenty of moving parts to accommodate several scenarios.

2014 Fantasy Outlooks
A.L. East N.L. East
Orioles Braves
Red Sox Marlins
Yankees Mets
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Nationals
A.L. Central N.L. Central
White Sox Cubs
Indians Reds
Tigers Brewers
Royals Pirates
Twins Cardinals
A.L. West N.L. West
Astros Diamondbacks
Angels Rockies
Athletics Dodgers
Mariners Padres
Rangers Giants

With Cleveland, it's also important to remember that the big offensive free agent move in 2013 (Michael Bourn) came relatively late, in mid-February. So they may have some surprises left. So far, they've added David Murphy -- who fizzled in 2013, but has potential for a .280 average and 15/15-ish numbers -- and signed Nyjer Morgan and Jeff Francoeur to minor league contracts. But the core essentially remains the same, which seems like a good thing, as a handful of regulars are due for return-to-form performances -- including Bourn (who hit just .263 with 23 steals last season), Chisenhall (who struggled as the starting third baseman in 2013, but did have a .920 OPS in September), and Asdrubal Cabrera (career-low .242 average and .299 OBP).

The Indians didn't add any impact offensive players in the offseason, but they did lose some major rotation pieces: Kazmir signed with the A's, while Jimenez and Myers left via free agency. The fortunes of the team may depend on Salazar's electric (but injury prone) arm. He's capable of producing a low ERA and WHIP -- with a boatload of strikeouts -- but his 145 innings pitched in 2013 were a career high; last year marked just the second time in seven professional seasons Salazar (who has always been a starter) threw more than 100 innings. And while Carlos Carrasco looks to have the last rotation spot locked up, there have been positive reports out of Cleveland about Bauer's new/old mechanics mashup. If he can start the year strong in the minors (assuming he is sent there out of spring training), Bauer could eventually force his way into the rotation.

John Axford was the most high-profile addition in Cleveland, and he's expected to take over as closer for the departed Chris Perez. While his numbers the last couple seasons have been pretty ugly (4.35 ERA, 1.48 WHIP), Axford told the National Post that when he arrived in St. Louis after a 2013 deadline deal, the coaches there told him he had been tipping his pitches. In 13 games with the Cardinals, Axford had a 1.74 ERA, striking out 11 batters in 10 1/3 innings.

From a Fantasy perspective, there isn't a ton of excitement on the roster. Bourn suddenly hates to steal bases and Salazar needs to stay healthy to have a real impact. But there is some really nice, albeit risky, end-game and AL-only upside (Gomes/Chisenhall/Bauer), and plenty of solid pieces that can be reliable cogs on mixed Fantasy rosters.

Bounceback candidate ... John Axford, relief pitcher

2014 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Michael Bourn CF
2. Nick Swisher 1B
3. Jason Kipnis 2B
4. Carlos Santana DH
5. Asdrubal Cabrera SS
6. Michael Brantley LF
7. Yan Gomes C
8. David Murphy RF
9. Lonnie Chisenhall 3B
Bench Mike Aviles IF
Bench Jeff Francoeur OF

From 2009 to 2011, Axford had a 2.26 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 131 appearances, saving 71 games (including 46 in 2011). Then it all came crashing down -- until the Cardinals revealed to Axford that he was tipping his pitches. His late-season resurgence with St. Louis makes plenty of sense in light of this information -- Axford's fastball hadn't lost any velocity, and he wasn't injured. If the problem has been corrected (and all signs point to that being the case), Axford could be looking at 40 saves with a return to his low-ratio, high-strikeout numbers. And with plenty of disbelievers out there -- and probably a good amount who didn't even see this Axford news, which came out in a dead period for baseball -- he can be had at a bargain price in 2014. The move to the American League shouldn't hurt Axford; he has a 2.48 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, with 10 saves in 29 career interleague games.

Sleeper ... Trevor Bauer, starting pitcher

Bauer has some pretty ugly major league stats -- a 5.67 ERA and 1.74 WHIP in eight career starts, with 29 walks in 33 1/3 innings. But Bauer was a top 15 prospect in 2012 and 2013. He's a cerebral pitcher whose twitter account is full of theory and mechanics talk, and his unorthodox methods have made him a bit of a hot button topic in terms of potential and future success. But he has a ton of talent and was on fire in the minors in 2012, striking out 157 batters in 130 1/3 innings, with a 2.42 ERA. Last season seemed to be one that both Bauer and the team viewed as a step forward, despite the steep decline in numbers -- MLB.com reported in January that Bauer had been tweaking his delivery all year, with the bigger picture in mind. By all accounts, Bauer looks to be headed in the right direction, and could get back on the path that made him one of the game's top prospects.

Non-roster invitee to watch ... Shaun Marcum, starting pitcher

2014 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Justin Masterson RHP
2. Corey Kluber RHP
3. Danny Salazar RHP
4. Zach McAllister RHP
5. Carlos Carrasco RHP
ALT Trevor Bauer RHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. John Axford RHP
2. Vinnie Pestano RHP
3. Cody Allen RHP
4. Josh Outman LHP
5. Marc Rzepczynski LHP

Even if Bauer figures into the rotation, 2013 taught us that 60 percent of a starting rotation can go poof in the blink of an eye. Marcum could figure into Cleveland's plans in the same way Kazmir (or even Kluber) did last year. From 2008 to 2012, Marcum had a 3.57 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 671 1/3 innings. Injuries derailed his momentum, but Marcum is still relatively young (32 years old), and should be fully recovered from July surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome by spring training. He will probably spend a few weeks in the minors early on to shake off rust and work up his arm strength (even if it's an ostensible trip to the farm as the Indians go through a few rounds without the need for a fifth starter), but a healthy Marcum should be able to step right into the rotation and put up the numbers he produced in that four-season span. AL-only owners could get a nice return on a $1 bid or reserve round pick.

Prospects Report

Is there such a thing as in-column Bauer fatigue? He's at the top of the prospect list, in terms of immediate impact. We'll spare you any more stats or positive offseason quotes from coaches. ... Francisco Lindor hit .303 with 25 steals in 104 games over two levels last season. He's probably slated for a 2015 debut, at the earliest, but has plenty of promise as a future middle infield star. Plenty of speed and average potential, and there's a chance he develops double-digit power. ... Clint Frazier was the fifth overall pick in last year's draft, and hit .297 with an .868 OPS in 44 games in the Arizona Rookie League last season. He's only 19 and has a couple seasons in the minors to go until he makes any kind of impact, but dynasty leaguers may want to consider him for a farm spot. ... Reliever Kyle Crockett was taken in the fourth round of last year's draft and raced up three levels of the organization, with a 0.36 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in 24 2/3 innings (over 21 games). He made it all the way to Double-A before he ran out of season. At 22 years old, there's a real chance Crockett could see some major league action in 2014. ... Chen-Chang Lee has a 2.94 ERA and 1.09 WHIP over 167 relief appearances in the minors, along with a nice 11.0 K/9 rate. He could break camp with the Indians, and has some longshot/darkhorse backup closer potential.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS .

  •  
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Carlos Gonzalez exits game due to knee tendinitis
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:36 pm ET) Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was forced to leave Sunday's contest against the Phillies due to left knee tendinitis, the team announced.

Gonzalez left the game in the seventh inning with the injury and was replaced by Drew Stubbs. He finished 1 for 4 with two runs scored and one RBI before the injury. He is hitting .282 with four homers and 14 RBI this season. His status remains uncertain Monday against San Francisco.


Jordan Danks launches first home run
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:19 pm ET) White Sox outfielder Jordan Danks launched his first home run of the season Sunday afternoon against the Rangers.

Danks took Robbie Ross deep for a two-run home run in the third inning. He finished 1 for 4 with one walk, two runs scored and two RBI in a 16-2 win. He has just two hits in his first 15 at-bats to start the season.

Marcus Semien cracks out four hits, four RBI in win over Texas
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:12 pm ET) White Sox second baseman Marcus Semien came up big at the plate Sunday afternoon, cranking out four hits, including a bases-loaded triple in his team's 16-2 victory over the Rangers.

Semien also singled in the third, eighth and ninth innings, respectively. He finished 4 for 6 with two runs and four RBI. He is hitting .222 with just two homers and nine RBI in 81 at-bats.

Robbie Ross gets hammered by White Sox
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:07 pm ET) Rangers starting pitcher Robbie Ross took a step back on Sunday, suffering his first loss of the season in a 16-2 defeat to the White Sox.

Ross served up two-run homers to Jordan Danks and Jose Abreu. He was charged with seven runs -- four earned -- on seven hits and no walks while striking out eight in 5 1/3 innings. He tossed 86 pitches, 65 of which were strikes.

Ross owns a 2.31 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and 21:8 K:BB ratio over 23 1/3 innings pitched. He will return to the mound Saturday at Seattle.

Erik Johnson collects win No. 1 on Sunday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:02 pm ET) White Sox pitcher Erik Johnson turned in a decent outing and received more than enough run support on Sunday, collecting his first win of the season in his team's 16-2 victory over the Rangers. The right-hander surrendered two runs -- one earned -- on one hit and five walks while striking out two over five innings.

Johnson owns a 5.32 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP over his first 22 innings pitched. He will make his next start Friday at home against Tampa Bay.

David Phelps returns to action Sunday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(7:01 pm ET) Yankees reliever David Phelps (hands) returned to action Sunday afternoon against the Rays in Tampa.

Phelps struck out one and needed just 16 pitches to retire four batters in 1 1/3 perfect innings of relief for the Yankees. He owns a 4.66 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP over 9 2/3 innings pitched this season.

Travis Snider suffers cut under eye during brawl Sunday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(6:59 pm ET) Pirates outfielder Travis Snider ended up with a cut under his right eye after getting punched by Martin Maldonado during a benches-clearing brawl during Sunday's game against the Brewers. Manager Clint Hurdle said Snider, who was ejected from the game, will be OK.

Carlos Villanueva handed second straight loss
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(6:46 pm ET) Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva struggled for the second straight start during an 8-2 loss Sunday against the Reds. He was charged with five runs on nine hits and one walk, while striking out seven in 4 2/3 innings.

Villanueva (1-4) got off to a good start as he struck out two in the first inning and had five strikeouts through three scoreless innings.

Unfortunately, it began to unravel for the right-hander in the fourth inning. The Reds would score three times in the fourth on RBI doubles from Devin Mesoraco and Zack Cozart, and an RBI single from opposing pitcher Homer Bailey.

Villanueva had more issues in the fifth inning, as Todd Frazier had an RBI double and Ryan Ludwick added an RBI single. Villaneuva was lifted after Ludwick's two-out RBI hit.

He's now allowed 14 earned runs in his last two starts -- both losses. Villanueva is slated to make his next start Friday at Milwaukee.


Vidal Nuno gives Yanks five scoreless innings in no-decision
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(6:43 pm ET) Yankees pitcher Vidal Nuno put together a solid performance on Sunday, but failed to factor into the decision in a 5-1 win in extras against the Rays at Tropicana Field. The southpaw surrendered three hits and two walks while striking out six over five innings pitched.

Nuno owns a 6.75 ERA and a 1.82 WHIP over his first 9 1/3 innings pitched. He'll likely make his next start Saturday against the Angels.

Yoenis Cespedes exits game with bruised heel
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(6:39 pm ET) Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was forced to leave early Sunday afternoon against the Astros with a bruised right heel, the team announced. 

Cespedes left the game in the seventh and was replaced by Craig Gentry. He finished 0 for 2 with a walk, lowering his batting average to .254 on the year. His status remains uncertain for Monday's series opener against the Rangers.

 
 
 
Rankings