The Tigers probably weren’t that deep before dealing away Justin Verlander and Justin Upton, and they sure as hell aren’t now that their former stars are in Houston and Los Angeles, respectively.
With the way the Indians are playing lately, it looks like you could take their backups and make a pretty formidable team out of them. Tonight, it was Giovanny Urshela, Yandy Diaz, Erik Gonzalez, and Roberto Perez forming the unlikely murderer’s row in game two of the double-header that helped the Indians with their ninth-straight game. That ties a season high, and it’s even better than the last one because it involves sweeps of the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals, and now two wins against the Tigers.
The everyday left side of the infield — Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez when everyone is healthy — is one of the best in baseball. The one the Indians had tonight — Giovanny Urhsla and Yandy Diaz — still probably made some teams jealous. It turns out Urshela doesn’t just forget how to play baseball when you move him a few feet to shortstop. Lindor still doesn’t have anything to fear, but Urshela is just making himself more versatile every day. It’s been said before that Urshela would be a pretty solid player even with an average bat, but if he can go 2-for-5 most nights, with his outstanding defense, he’s an MVP candidate.
While not technically a backup, Mike Clevinger probably wouldn’t be in the rotation without injuries. So he fits in with this whole narrative. And at this point, I’m not sure he’ll leave the rotation when Josh Tomlin comes back, either. He pitched a six-inning gem tonight, his second six-inning gem in a row. Even with a few clunkers under his belt, Clevinger carries an ERA well under 4.00 and a FIP right around 4.00 and he was downright unhittable tonight.
This game also saw the debuts of Greg Allen and top prospect Francisco Mejia, much to the surprise of people like me who were smugly confident that neither would debut until at least next year. The former pinch ran in the second inning (and advanced on a passed ball) and the latter pinch-hit in the eighth. Neither made any major contributions to the win, but what better way to enter the majors than in the midst of a 10-run blowout over a division opponent? Allen even had the honor of being interviewed by Carlos Carrasco. What a day. Who knows how much we’ll see them over the next month, but if you believe that being in a good clubhouse has an impact on a player’s future, these two are in good hands with the Indians right now.
The Indians are winning, the Indians are fun, the Indians are ready. October can’t come soon enough.