2020 Cleveland Indians Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
The Indians are trying to walk a very fine line right now. Cleveland has won more than 90 games in four straight seasons. However, after making it to Game 7 of the World Series in 2016, the Indians, despite their regular season success, have gotten further and further away from a championship each year. That includes last season, when they won 93 games but failed to make the playoffs.
Now Cleveland is on the fence. They are still trying to compete in a very winnable division. The A.L. Central is horrific, and Cleveland is still the second-best team in it, giving them a realistic shot at the playoffs. But the wheels have already been turning on their rebuilding efforts, and the Tribe have been chipping away at their foundation over the last two seasons.
Cleveland is no longer a championship-caliber team. But that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t make the playoffs and cause some problems in the American League. Terry Francona is one of the best managers in baseball. And there is still enough high-end talent in pockets of this roster for Tito to keep the Indians in the race.
So do the Indians stay or go? Do they try for one last hurrah? Should they sell high on their best assets and dive head long into a rebuilding phase? Or should they simply flush this season and try to gear up to begin another run in 2021?
Cleveland has no chance of winning the American League this year. But they could still end up being a major factor in it.
Cleveland Indians 2020 Projected Lineup (updated expert MLB picks daily)
1. Francisco Lindor – SS
2. Oscar Mercado – OF
3. Carlos Santana – 1B
4. Jose Ramirez – 3B
5. Franmil Reyes – DH
6. Cesar Hernandez – 2B
7. Domingo Santana – OF
8. Roberto Perez – C
9. Delino DeShields – OF
Pitching and defense have been the keys to Cleveland’s rise over the last four years. Their lineup has almost been an afterthought. The Indians offense has only been asked to do “enough” over the past several seasons. But since Cleveland’s starting pitching staff has turned over, they will be expecting more production from their bats this season.
Francisco Lindor is one of the best players in the American League and can do it all. The 26-year-old is hitting his prime and has been among the league leaders in runs and at-bats the last three years. Lindor popped 32 home runs last season among his 170 hits, while also adding 22 stolen bases. He is the focal point of this offense from the leadoff spot.
However, Lindor, who is under team control for two more seasons, is looking for a long-term deal. If Cleveland doesn’t intend to pony up with a big-time deal, then it makes sense for them to trade Lindor this season, when his value is high, rather than next season when he will be playing in a walk year.
Carlos Santana rebounded from is disastrous one-season sojourn to Philadelphia in 2018 with the best season of his career in 2019. He will need to match last year’s fantastic production: .281 batting average, 34 home runs, 93 RBI, 110 runs and 161 hits and a .911 OPS.
After two MVP-caliber seasons in 2017 and 2018, Jose Ramirez struggled throughout the 2019 campaign. He battled injuries all season and played fewer than 150 games for the first time since his rookie year. A bounce back from Ramirez would go a long way to stabilizing this entire lineup.
Lindor, Santana and Ramirez are the lineup anchors. But some new blood in Hernandez and Santana could tell the tale of how this team performs this season. Also, Franmil Reyes is a major X-Factor. He hit 37 total home runs last season after coming over from San Diego. If Reyes, Hernandez and Santana can match their production from last year, then I expect Cleveland’s offense to make a major leap in the rankings.
Cleveland Indians 2020 Projected Rotation And Closer
1. Shane Bieber (R)
2. Mike Clevinger (R)
3. Carlos Carrasco (R)
4. Adam Plutko (R)
5. Zach Plesac (R)
Closer: Brad Hand (R)
Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin and Danny Salazar were four of the Indians’ top starters just two years ago. All four players are gone. Despite that turnover, Cleveland still has a starting rotation that can hold up against most in the A.L.
The two most important pieces of this rotation are Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco is working his way back from a battle with leukemia, and Clevinger had knee surgery on Feb. 14. They are the most experienced and accomplished starters on the roster, and the Indians need them both healthy and effective this year.
Shane Bieber had a breakout season last year as well. He went 15-8 with a 3.28 in 2019 with three complete games and two shutouts. Bieber’s innings jumped from 114 in 2018 to 214 last year. That would’ve been a concern entering his age-25 season. But since we won’t have a full 162-game season this year, Bieber will be able to rear back and let it rip.
Cleveland has also boasted one of the best bullpens in baseball over the last five years. That has been a staple of their success and should be again this year. Brad Hand had 34 saves last season while allowing just six home runs and 21 earned runs. Nick Wittgren, Adam Cimber and Oliver Perez, three of their top setup men from last season, are also back. Although the new rule requiring at least three batters faced could kill Perez’s value.
Cleveland Indians Odds To Win The World Series
I actually think that the Indians offer decent value to win the American League Central at 3-to-1. However, their 11-to-1 odds to win the American League seems optimistic, and I would put them closer to 18- or 20-to-1. The Indians are 25-to-1 to win the World Series, but I don’t see them as a real threat.
Cleveland Indians 2020 Predictions
I am basing all of my predictions on my belief in an 81-game season that starts in early July. I have absolutely no inside information about MLB’s plans for the 2020 season. However, for the sake of discussion, 81 games are what I have in mind while writing these previews.
I think that the Indians are going to be one of the most intriguing teams in the American League. The delayed start to the season is allowing two of their best pitchers to get healthy, and a third top starter will benefit from a lack of an innings restriction this season. If some of the newcomers, including Reyes (who only played 51 games for the Indians last year), perform well, then there may be enough offense and pitching on this team to make a return trip to the postseason.
Again, Cleveland won 93 games last year. So it is not as if they are coming out of nowhere.
That said, the pitching staff is nowhere near as strong as it was in 2016 and 2017. There is a dearth of Cy Young-caliber arms in this rotation, and the bullpen will be impacted by new rule changes. If this team’s pitching isn’t good enough to execute its pitching-and-defense philosophy, then I’m not sure where it leaves them. And the long-term situation with Lindor is a dark cloud over this locker room right now.
Minnesota is still the best team in the Central. And the White Sox are up-and-coming. Cleveland is on that razor’s edge of trying to compete now while rebuilding on the fly. No matter how the cards are dealt this season, this franchise is going to be one to keep an eye on.
Robert Ferringo is a professional sports bettor and handicapper for Doc’s Sports and is considered one of the top MLB betting experts in the country. He has posted three consecutive winning MLB seasons and closed the 2019 season on a +$10,000 baseball run for his followers. Robert has beaten the books for six of seven profitable seasons on the diamond and is looking forward to another winning season for his clients. If you would like some help winning more bets in MLB this season the good news is that you can try out Ferringo’s MLB picks for free when you set up your complimentary $60 account here.
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