By Nate Edwards
Two weeks into the Cleveland Indians 2018 season on OOTP 19 and the Tribe’s 13-3 start has them rated as the top team in the power rankings.
For the second week in a row, however, an injury is forcing me to temper my excitement. During week one, Jose Ramirez suffered inflammation in his forearm. His return date is now listed as “unknown” by team doctors, who have insisted he remain on the disabled list as a precaution.
As frustrating as it is to not know when Ramirez will return to the lineup, it’s actually worse to know that the Indians will have to go the rest of the season without Carlos Carrasco, who will miss 10 months following surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.
Adam Plutko (0-1, 10.80) was hit hard in his first start replacing Carrasco in the rotation.
Some help could be on the way with Danny Salazar almost ready to make his return from a rehab assignment a AAA Columbus. Salazar is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in six innings with the Clippers.
There has been some good news on the injury front. The end of Giovanny Urshela’s rehab trip to Columbus forced a decision on who to keep: Urshela or Erik Gonzalez?
Despite a .200 start that includes one home run in a reserve role, Gonzalez has more pop in his bat than Urshela, who hit .500 with a home run in his 10 at bats in Columbus. And while Urshela has a slick glove, Gonzalez’ ability to play multiple positions is a plus.
It didn’t take long to find a trade partner. When Padres general manager A.J. Preller offered young starting pitcher Eric Lauer in a trade for Urshela and minor-league second
baseman Eric Clement, I was sold. Clement was the oldest of the players Preller asked for as the final piece of the deal for Lauer. I wasn’t willing to include Wil Castro, Travis Freeman, Quentin Holmes, Nolan Jones or George Valera. There’s just too much upside with those players.
I met Lauer when he was a pitcher at nearby Kent State, where he led all starting pitchers of college baseball in ERA as a senior. I’ve followed him ever since and love the idea of grooming him for a starting spot in the Indians rotation, potentially as a replacement for Carrasco by the end of the year.
Since reporting to AA Akron, Lauer has made one start. His numbers: 1-0, 1.59 ERA, 5 Ks, and 3 BBs. I’ll be keeping a close eye on his development with the Rubber Ducks.
Here’s a look at some of the Indians’ numbers through the 13-3 start: