This was a tough one, even for you, the GM with a heart of ice. But, in trading Corey Kluber, you upgraded the outfield and bullpen this year and bolstered the organizational depth at catcher in fell swoop. Analysts love it. Fans, though sad to see Kluber go, take to Alex Verdugo quickly and even shower love on JT Chargois, with our pal Hipster Tito creating a “Chamois Chargois” to bring to games.
Things are clicking and the Indians are rolling off wins as expected in the Central, with the rotating fifth rotation spot somehow still better than Josh Tomlin in 2018. The Tribe sits 10 games above .500 on June 14 when the wheels come off. In a two-inning span, on a day Cleveland fans will remember as Black Friday, Shane Bieber hears a pop in his elbow and Francisco Lindor falls down, grabbing his hamstrings, while running to first.
Bieber requires Tommy John surgery and is immediately ruled out until June of 2020. Lindor suffered a grade-3 hamstring strain, a complete tear, requiring surgery and three to four months of recovery. Despite Herculean efforts from Lindor, neither he nor Bieber see the field again in 2019.
Though no one’s fault, losing Lindor robs the team of its soul. The Indians limp through the final few months. Trevor Bauer pitches his way into a Cy Young finalist spot, and Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger are also fantastic, but the bright spots on the team are few and far between outside that. What’s worse, the Twins capitalized on the cold market once again -- but this time their efforts paid off. In signing Craig Kimbrel, Carlos Gomez, and Josh Harrison at rock-bottom prices, the Twins hit gold and created a winner under first-year manager Rocco Baldelli.
In early July, the Tribe lost its grip on first place to Minnesota but rallied to reclaim the lead shortly after. Unwilling to stomach another trade or take on more salary, however, ownership will not approve a trade at the deadline. The team shows some fight, but the Twins are rolling and a stretch of games against the Astros, Twins, Red Sox, Yankees, and Mets from July into August proves a killer.
The Indians finish the season 84-78, three games back of the Twins and seven games back of the second Wild Card, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2015.