It’s only six games! It’s such a small sample size! Don’t care.

Well, I mean, I do care, but there’s always something you can take away from a couple of games, or one game, or one at-bat even. So, that’s what I’m going to do here with the first few games of the Cleveland Indians‘ 2015 season.

Just six games into the regular season, and there are some things we can already point to as potential major storylines moving forward. The three I’ve chosen to highlight here seem to be the biggest, and most relevant to their chances at a successful postseason run in 2015.

Let’s get started.


The Starting Rotation is Good…Well, the Top 3 Anyway

For most of the offseason, the Indians’ starting rotation was billed as a semi-under-the-radar option in the conversation of baseball’s best starting rotations. 

Between its top three members—Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer—the group has proved to be a rather formidable one. Kluber has been rock solid in his two starts, allowing just a 2.63 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP while striking out 17 and walking just three over 13.2 innings pitched.

Carrasco’s lone effort this season was one of the best of his career. The 28-year-old threw 6.1 scoreless innings in a winning effort against the Houston Astros, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out 10.

Bauer, who has always been an enigmatic talent, flashed his more dominant side in his first start of the year. The 24-year-old held the Astros scoreless, and hitless, over six innings while walking five (ugh) and striking out 11 (yay).

So, the front three have lived up to their end of the bargain, but what about the back two?

In their first starts of the season, Zach McAllister and T.J. House allowed five and six earned runs, respectively. The chart below details the full stat lines to this point in the 2015 season:

Yes, it’s only one start, and I think we’re all well aware of that. However, there’s something to be said for the fact that the two most suspect members of the rotation are the ones who underperformed.

McAllister and House were fringe candidates for the rotation even during spring training. If not for an early injury to Gavin Floyd, and a down performance from Danny Salazar, it’s quite possible that neither one would have even been considered for a spot in the rotation.

That said, they’re here now, and they need to figure things out if they’re going to support what has been a rather stagnant offense in the season’s early goings.


Yan Gomes Will Be Sorely Missed

He may not have been off to the hottest of starts in 2015, but Yan Gomes is a huge piece to the Indians lineup.

A Silver Slugger Award winner last season, Gomes put up a .278/.313/.472 batting line with 21 home runs, 25 doubles, 74 RBI and 61 runs scored. Arguably the best hitting catcher in the American League, Gomes was a major part of Cleveland’s success last season, posting a 4.4 WAR over 518 plate appearances.

In his time with the Indians, Gomes has also been a solid defensive option, posting a caught-stealing percentage of 35 percent; the league average in that time (2013-15) was 27 percent.

In addition to the control he exhibits over the run game, Gomes has been worth 12 defensive-runs saved with the Indians, adding further to the idea that he’s a great defensive catcher.

Unfortunately, this year, the 27-year-old could spend an extended period of time on the disabled list. On April 11, Gomes was the victim of a rather nasty collision at the plate, when Detroit Tigers outfielder Rajai Davis slid into Gomes’ outstretched leg.

According to Sports Illustrated, the move has already been made to send Gomes to the DL:

A sprained right knee is the injury Gomes is said to be dealing with, but information is still coming in at a rather brisk pace.

According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Gomes’ injury is severe enough that he’s using crutches to get around. In fact, Hoynes noted that the next day, the veteran backstop relied on them to go out and accept the aforementioned Silver Slugger Award:

Shortly after that, SportsCenter tweeted that the team expects to be without Brazilian native for at least six to eight weeks:

It’s an unfortunate turn of events in the young catcher’s blossoming career, but it’s already becoming clear that he’ll be sorely missed. In his first game as the team’s starting catcher, Roberto Perez allowed three stolen bases and was saddled with a throwing error that allowed a run to score.


The Indians Bullpen Is…Suspect?

The Indians bullpen was, for the most part, very solid in 2014, allowing the fourth-best ERA among AL relief units. Across the board, the Indians were able to neutralize opponents during the latter stages of games. That ability is displayed in the table below:

So, here we have a bullpen that was, for all intents and purposes, very successful, having ranked in the top half, and quite often the top third, of nearly every meaningful statistical measure of bullpen success.

This year, the team returned a group that looks eerily similar to the one it went with for most of the 2014 season; however, it hasn’t experienced similar results.

Take a look at how the 2015 bullpen ranks in the same categories we examined above:

Surely the Indians bullpen will get better, right? Well, that’s the hope anyway, because right now, it’s borderline awful. Despite being used less frequently than both the average AL bullpen and the majority of AL bullpens, the relievers are putting up numbers that place them near the bottom-third of the league.

Will they bounce back? Possibly.

Will management look to shake up the bullpen’s composition in 2015? Also possibly.

One thing’s for certain, if the Indians are going to be successful, the bullpen will have to contribute a little more.


All stats courtesy of and are current through play on April 13, 2015 unless otherwise noted.

Tyler Duma is a Featured Columnist covering the New York Yankees for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter. 

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