The Swoon: A look back at June

The Indians insist that it was just one of those bad stretches that every team goes through. Well, not every team dismisses its hitting coach midway through a horrendous, team-wide offensive slump.

Cleveland’s persistent woes at the plate cost hitting coach Jon Nunnally his job on June 19. The Indians brought in Bruce Fields, who had been the organization’s roving Minor League hitting instructor. It was an odd move for a first-place team, but a sign that the Tribe is not going to just sit idly as the team slides down the standings.

June was a month in which Fausto Carmona struggled mightily on the mound, Grady Sizemore slumped painfully at the plate and the Indians decided the time had come to dip into its farm system for aid. Both Cord Phelps and Lonnie Chisenhall got the call during the Tribe’s June swoon.

June was also a month marred by injuries and schedule quirks. Cleveland lost Shin-Soo Choo to a fractured left thumb and subsequent surgery will likely keep him out until September. Also missing is first baseman Matt LaPorta, felled by a sprained ankle. Travis Hafner came back from injury, but then was turned into the club’s designated sitter during a long Interleague road trip.

And, yet, the Indians weathered the collective storm, for the most part. Entering July, the team was only a half-game out of first place. That is largely due to the continued dominance of the Tribe’s bullpen and the emergence of Carlos Carrasco. Justin Masterson also pitched strong, but run support is typically required to reel in wins.

All things considered, June could’ve been a whole lot worse.

Here’s a glance at the past month as we head into June…

Offense:

91 runs — 11th in the AL
205 hits — 12th in the AL
47 doubles — 5th in the AL
18 HR — 10th in the AL
82 RBIs — 12th in the AL
.228 average — 12th in the AL
.302 on-base — 11th in the AL
.354 slugging — 12th in the AL
.656 OPS — 12th in the AL
318 total bases — 10th in the AL
215 strikeouts — 14th in the AL

Pitching:

10 wins — 12th in the AL
3.98 ERA — 10th in the AL
2.97 bullpen ERA — 6th in AL
4.42 starters ERA — 10th in AL
1.321 WHIP — 9th in the AL
8-14 — starters’ combined record

Defense:

21 errors (May 16; April 13)
14 unearned runs (May 12, April 3)

The Ledger:

Record at home: 5-8
Record on the road: 5-9

Bastian’s May Awards:

Player of the Month: Asdrubal Cabrera
Comment: Cabby gets the nod as my Player of the Month for the third month in a row. The Indians shortstop cooled off a bit, but he was still the team’s most consistent hitter across the board. Overall, Cabrera put up a slashline of .297/.339/.468 for June. He had a .807 OPS with three homers, 10 doubles, 11 RBIs and 17 runs scored. Carlos Santana led the Indians with five homers and 12 RBIs in June, but his average still suffered.

Pitcher of the Month: Carlos Carrasco
Comment: For the first time this year, Josh Tomlin isn’t my pick as Pitcher of the Month. Shoot, if it weren’t for Detroit’s Justin Verlander, Carrasco might be the American League’s Pitcher of the Month for June. All Cookie did was go 4-2 with a 1.90 ERA in six starts — finally looking like the star the Indians believe he can become. Over 42.2 IP, Carrasco struck out 28, walked seven and posted a 0.867 WHIP.

Reliever of the Month: Joe Smith
Comment: In 11.2 innings of work, Mr. Smith posted a 0.00 ERA. In his 11 appearances, the sidearmer struck out four, walked four and yielded 10 hits. Smith enticed hitters to make contact and got tremendous results. Entering July, his season ERA stood at 1.03 over 28 games. Closer Chris Perez jokingly called him “Average Joe” a couple weeks ago, but he’s been “Mighty Joe” of late for the Indians.

Rookie of the Month: Vinnie Pestano
Comment: Once again, Pestano takes home the rookie honors. Perhaps in July, when third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall starts piling up some at-bats, Pestano will have some rookie competition for my monthly accolades. Not that Pestano isn’t worthy. In June, he put up a 1.86 ERA and a 0.828 WHIP over 10 games. Pestano struck out 15 and walked four in just 9 2/3 innings.

Comeback Player of the Month: Travis Hafner
Comment: So what if he only played 11 games in June? The man hit .286 with a .444 OBP and a .619 SLG in the games he did play. Pronk also belted two homers and drove in seven to go along with that 1.063 OPS. He gets the nod for me because he showed how much he affects the lineup. Losing Hafner to the oblique injury hurt Cleveland for a solid month.

~JB

3 Comments

Pingback: While We’re Waiting… June Drought for Tribe, an Omri Casspi Scouting Report, and NBA Web Design | WaitingForNextYear

Jordan, you seem to take quite a few days “off” from your beat writing, as otehrs substitute for you, is this not a full-time gig for you? Just curious.

I had a full week of vacation this past week. Was scheduled well before this season began. The Bastian clan all congregated in Colorado to throw my dad a surprise 70th birthday party. Any other days off are scheduled — not requested. Looking ahead to the second half, I don’t have very many off-days over the next 2 1/2 months. This past week was a rare occurrence. But, hey, thanks for noticing!
~JB

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