To get another ace reliever, you had to give up an extremely promising prospect in Ethan Hankins, but Archie Bradley proves his worth from the start. Coming in and assuming a hybrid role with Brad Hand in the late innings, the duo make for a devastating left-right punch.
Bradley matches his career-best 2017 numbers, with a FIP under 2.70 and an ERA+ over 260. He pitches 30 innings down the stretch for Cleveland, allowing just four earned runs over that span. His efforts help the Indians surpass their 2018 win total, racking up 95 wins and clinching the division two weeks before either the AL East or West is decided.
The Indians avenge their 2018 postseason performance by defeating the Astros in four games, with Bradley striking out Michael Brantley to end game four in Cleveland. The surprising Rays meet the Tribe in the ALCS, having fended off the Red Sox in the Wild Card game and the Yankees in five games in the ALDS. Terry Francona trolls Kevin Cash by highlighting his postseason record as a player (1-for-3 with his one hit, a home run, coming in a 13-4 loss) and as a manager (0 postseason appearances prior to 2019), but the Rays prove hard to eliminate.
With the series tied at one apiece, Yandy Diaz plays the role of assassin, using the turf of Tropicana Field to slap ground-ball missiles through holes in the Tribe infield, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI. Down a game, the Indians rally back and win two in a row, heading back to Cleveland with a chance to reach the World Series. In game six, Trevor Bauer and Jake Bauers do the damage, with the pitcher throwing seven innings of two-hit ball before handing the reins to Bradley and Hand, and the former Ray swatting a pair of RBI doubles to give Cleveland a chance to break the drought.
In the World Series, however, the Brewers title drought of the entire franchise history proves to be easier to break than Cleveland’s. Having added Dallas Keuchel and Logan Forsythe in the twilight of the offseason, the Brewers showed little weakness and bested their performance from 2018. After topping a difficult NL Central, the Crew romped through the playoffs, eliminating the Dodgers and Nationals in quick succession. The Indians proved more tricky, sending the series to six games, but Josh Hader’s nine scoreless innings in the series proved too much to overcome, as Cleveland lost its fourth World Series in 25 years.