Month in review: July
Change was in the air for Cleveland in July.
The team’s position in the standings, combined with the below-average seasons and contract situations of starter Justin Masterson and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, led to a pair of trades at the Deadline. Masterson was sent packing to St. Louis for outfield prospect James Ramsey. Cabrera (shown in the Progressive Field tunnel in the above photo from Brian Dulik of the Chronicle-Telegram) was dealt to D.C. for infield prospect Zach Walters.
Behind near-All-Star Corey Kluber (he fell short in the Final Vote) and rookie Trevor Bauer, the rotation turned into a fluid group of five. Center fielder Michael Bourn hit the shelf again with a left hamstring injury, the Tribe traded for outfielder Chris Dickerson to help out and Michael Brantley made his first All-Star team and shifted to center. Carlos Santana continued his mid-summer surge. Nick Swisher continued to slump.
Through the ups and downs, the Indians turned in a winning month. The offense — despite its own peaks and valleys — was one of the American League’s best groups for July. Kluber continued to assert himself as an ace-in-the-making, going undefeated, flirting with perfection and delivering historical footnotes with every step.
Kluber’s stellar season aside, what has held the Indians back to this point has been their starting staff. For the month of July, Kluber went 4-0 with a 1.54 ERA and 0.68 in 41 innings. The rest of the rotation (a mix of six other arms) went a combined 5-7 with a 5.35 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 111 innings.
Meanwhile, the Tigers went out and traded for ace lefty David Price to bolster their already strong staff.
Inside the Indians’ clubhouse, the players did what they could to shrug off the lack of Major League additions made by the Tribe at this year’s Deadline.
“You can look at it two ways,” Indians closer Cody Allen said. “You can look at it as, we have the pieces here that we feel like we can win with. We’re still right there within striking distance of that second Wild Card spot. We’ve got a lot of guys here that this organization is going to build itself around for the next few years and if you add a guy, it may push a guy out.
“So, the way I look at it is, we’ve got the pieces we need already here.”
We’ll see. There are two months left to put that theory to the test.
Here is a glance at the month that was for the Tribe…
AL Central standings heading into August:
1. Tigers 58-47 (–)
2. Royals 55-52 (4.0)
3. Indians 53-55 (6.5)
4. White Sox 53-56 (7.0)
5. Twins 48-59 (11.0)
Record at home: 7-6
Record on road: 7-6
Offense (AL rank)
.269 AVG (4)
.328 OBP (6)
.425 SLG (2)
.754 OPS (2)
122 R (3)
247 H (2)
47 2B (5)
2 3B (12)
31 HR (2)
121 RBI (2)
17 SB (2)
78 BB (5)
196 K (t-8)
391 TB (1)
Notes: The Indians enjoyed an offensive renaissance in July, led by first baseman Carlos Santana, catcher Yan Gomes and outfielder Michael Brantley. The club ranked within the top three in the league in multiple categories and enjoyed its best July in a decade in terms off offensive output. The last Cleveland team to have at least 17 stolen bases, 31 homers, 122 runs and 391 total bases in July was the 2004 club. In-between the Indians only hit those marks in a single month in May 2007 and May 2013.
Pitching (AL rank)
14 wins (t-6)
3.44 ERA (6)
4.32 rot. ERA (12)
1.88 rel. ERA (3)
6 saves (t-8)
238.1 IP (2)
228 H (9)
96 R (6)
91 ER (t-7)
22 HR (8)
59 BB (3)
228 K (t-2)
.252 AVG (8)
1.20 WHIP (6)
Notes: Rotation issues aside, this was an historic month for the Tribe’s pitching staff as a whole. Cleveland hadn’t registered at least 228 strikeouts in July since 1964. This was the first time in team history for any month that the Indians had at least 200 strikeouts and fewer than 60 walks. In fact, the list of teams ever to achieve at least 220 strikeouts and fewer than 60 walks in a single month is a short one: Indians (July 2014), Angels (July 2014), Dodgers (June 2013), Phillies (August 2010), D-backs (August 2008 and August 2001).
Player of the Month: 1B Carlos Santana
Stats: .313/.407/.615/1.022, 8 HR, 13 XBH, 20 RBI, 15 R, 15 BB, 26 games
Notes: Santana continued his season turnaround in July, becoming the first Indians batter to turn in a .300/.400/.600 slash with at least eight homers, 15 walks and 20 RBIs in a single month since Travis Hafner did so in August 2006. The last switch hitter to achieve that feat in the Majors was Chase Headley in Sept/Oct 2012. The last switch hitter have that slash line with at least 15 walks in a month was Roberto Alomar, who enjoyed that type of showing in June 2001 and July 1999.
Previous ’14 winners: OF David Murphy (April), OF Michael Brantley (May), 3B Lonnie Chisenhall (June)
Pitcher of the Month: RHP Corey Kluber
Stats: 4-0, 1.54 ERA, 41 IP, 43 K, 4 BB, .169 AVG, 0.68 WHIP, 5 starts
Notes: Only 33 times in the past 100 seasons has a pitcher enjoyed a month with at least 40 innings, and ERA, WHIP and opponents’ average marks as good or better than Kluber did in July. The last five such occurrences before Kluber were Clayton Kershaw (June 2014 and July 2013), R.A. Dickey (June 2012), Felix Hernandez (August 2012) and Cliff Lee (June 2011). The last and only other Cleveland pitcher to have no losses, 40-plus innings, a 1.54 ERA or better and no more than four walks in a month was Eddie Fisher in August 1968. That’s only been accomplished 16 times in the past 100 seasons in the Majors. The last four on that list include: Kershaw (June 2014), Esteban Loaiza (August 2006), Mike Mussina (Sept/Oct 2001) and some guy named Greg Maddux (June 1998).
Previous ’14 winners: RHP Zach McAllister (April), Kluber (May, June)
Reliever of the Month: RHP Cody Allen
Stats: 0.00 ERA, 11 IP, 16 K, 3 BB, .179 AVG, 0.91 WHIP, 6 saves, 12 games
Notes: Allen became the first pitcher in Indians history to allow no runs, record multiple saves and appear in at least 12 games in one month for the club. If you remove the save element, the only others to have 12 scoreless outings in a single month are Bryan Shaw (September 2013), Vinnie Pestano (July 2012), Scott Sauerbeck (August 2005), Matt Miller (August 2004) and Paul Assenmacher (May 1998 and July 1997). This marked the 28th time in the past 100 seasons that a Major League pitcher gave up no runs with at least six saves, 12 appearances and 16 strikeouts. Recent names on that list also include Francisco Rodriguez (April 2014), Craig Kimbrel (August 2013 and Sept/Oct 2012) and Fernando Rodney (Sept/Oct 2012).
Previous ’14 winners: RHP Bryan Shaw (April, May), Allen (June)
Game of the Month (hitter): 1B Carlos Santana
July 27 at Royals: 3-for-3, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP
Notes: With his two blasts, Santana equaled a franchise record with five home runs in a single series, joining Travis Hafner (2004), Matt Williams (1997), Albert Belle (1995), Joe Carter (1989) and Hal Trosky (1934) on that short list. Santana also became the first Cleveland batter to have at least one walk, one homer and two extra-base hits in three straight games since Elmer Smith in 1921.
Game of the Month (pitcher): RHP Corey Kluber
July 30 vs. Mariners: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 85 (69), 89 game score
Notes: Kluber became one of seven Indians pitchers to record a “Maddux” (a nine-inning shutout with fewer than 100 pitches) since 1988, when MLB first began tracking pitch counts. He was the first to achieve the feat since Cliff Lee on June 14, 2009. The others are Greg Swindell (1988), Charlie Nagy (1992), Bartolo Colon (1998 and 2002) and Paul Byrd (2007). Kluber’s 85 pitches were the fewest in that group. Kluber also became the first pitcher in Major League history to face 28 batters or fewer in back-to-back starts of at least nine innings. The righty also set a single-season franchise record with his 10th start consisting of at least eight strikeouts and no more than one walk issued. CC Sabathia had nine such outings in 2007. Kluber is the first Indians pitcher to have back-to-back outings with no walks, no earned runs and at least nine innings since Dick Donovan in 1963. The last American League pitcher to accomplish that feat was Rob Guidry in 1977. The last pitcher in the Majors to do so was Maddux in 2000. The MLB record is three such outings in a row, a record shared by Randy Jones (1980), Allie Reynolds (1951) and Pete Alexander (1916).
Minor League standouts for July
Player of the Month: 3B Giovanny Urshela
Stats: .321/.398/.526/.923, 2 HR, 11 XBH, 16 RBI, 15 R, 24 games
Previous ’14 winners: 1B Jesus Aguilar (April), OF Matt Carson (May), C Roberto Perez (June)
Pitcher of the Month: RHP Tyler Cloyd
Stats: 3-1, 2.63 ERA, 41 IP, 24 K, 6 BB, .255 AVG, 1.12 WHIP, 6 starts
Previous ’14 winners: RHP Trevor Bauer (April), LHP Nick Hagadone (May), RHP Austin Adams (June)
Player of the Month: OF Anthony Gallas
Stats: .269/.347/.546/.893, 7 HR, 15 XBH, 20 RBI, 18 R, 13 BB, 29 games
Previous ’14 winners: 3B Giovanny Urshela (April), OF Tyler Naquin (May, June)
Pitcher of the Month: LHP Giovanni Soto
Stats: 0.61 ERA, 14.2 IP, 8 K, 1 BB, .125 AVG, 0.48 WHIP, 9 games
Previous ’14 winners: LHP Kyle Crockett (April), RHP Tyler Sturdevant (May), RHP Bryan Price (June)
Class A (high) Carolina
Player of the Month: INF Yhoxian Medina
Stats: .379/.434/.505/.939, 10 XBH, 13 RBI, 20 R, 10 BB, 6 SB, 24 games
Previous ’14 winners: SS Erik Gonzalez (April), OF Anthony Gallas (May), OF Luigi Rodriguez (June)
Pitcher of the Month: RHP Jacob Lee
Stats: 0.00 ERA, 16.1 IP, 16 K, 5 BB, .186 AVG, 0.98 WHIP, 10 games
Previous ’14 winners: LHP Ryan Merritt (April, May, June)
Class A (low) Lake County
Player of the Month: OF Clint Frazier
Stats: .309/.414/.543/.957, 6 HR, 9 XBH, 13 RBI, 20 R, 15 BB, 25 games
Previous ’14 winners: OF Cody Farrell (April), INF Paul Hendrix (May), INF Claudio Bautista
Pitcher of the Month: LHP Wander Beras
Stats: 1.62 ERA, 16.2 IP, 18 K, 5 BB, .158 AVG, 0.84 WHIP, 7 games
Previous ’14 winners: RHP Jordan Milbrath (April), RHP Robbie Aviles (May), RHP Ben Heller
Class A (short season) Mahoning Valley
Player of the Month: OF Bradley Zimmer
Stats: .287/.365/.446/.811, 2 HR, 11 XBH, 16 RBI, 20 R, 11 BB, 5 SB, 26 games
Previous ’14 winners: OF Jorge Martinez (June)
Pitcher of the Month: LHP Sean Brady
Stats: 1-1, 1.69 ERA, 32 IP, 22 K, 13 BB, .207 AVG, 1.16 WHIP, 6 starts
Previous ’14 winners: RHP Justin Garcia (June)
Arizona (Rookie) League
Player of the Month: 1B Bobby Bradley
Stats: .379/.460/.644/1.104, 4 HR, 14 XBH, 27 RBI, 18 R, 11 BB, 21 games
Previous ’14 winners: 1B Emmanuel Tapia (June)
Pitcher of the Month: RHP Cortland Cox
Stats: 0.00 ERA, 10 IP, 12 K, 1 BB, .152 AVG, 0.60 WHIP, 1 save, 9 games
Previous ’14 winners: LHP Thomas Pannone (June)
Dominican Summer League
Player of the Month: OF Gabriel Mejia
Stats: .347/.463/.396/.859, 4 XBH, 4 RBI, 28 R, 22 BB, 26 SB, 26 games
Previous ’14 winners: Mejia (June)
Pitcher of the Month: RHP Luis Jimenez
Stats: 1-1, 0.75 ERA, 24 IP, 20 K, 5 BB, .163 AVG, 0.75 WHIP, 5 starts
Previous ’14 winners: RHP Cesar Ventura (June)