Month in review: July

michael-brantley-mlb-tampa-bay-rays-cleveland-indians-850x560Like it or not, the Indians have now entered into a two-month evaluation period. Things have not as planned or expected — just ask the people who planned Sports Illustrated’s season preview during the spring — and now Cleveland has to begin thinking about its future.

In the final days of July, which resulted in a .500 record for the Tribe, the Indians dealt away Brandon Moss (Cardinals), David Murphy (Angels) and Marc Rzepczynski (Padres). That sheds some potential salary for 2016, and it also opens the door for the Indians to test out some of its internal options down the stretch this year.

“We want to make sure that we learn something about ourselves in the second half,” Indians GM Chris Antonetti said on Thursday. “We have to look at it as an opportunity for us to go into the offseason and next year in a better position.”

The pitching continued to rank as one of the American League’s best groups throughout July, and the foundation in place for the rotation is what should provide some optimism about Cleveland’s ability to make this a quick turnaround. That said, this team needs offense in a bad way. July was a perfect example. While the pitchers rated as arguably the best staff in the AL, the offense was in the cellar, making it hard to scratch out wins.

The lineup also had a solid core group, but there will be holes to fill this coming winter.

First, the Indians need to fight through the final two months of this year.

Here is a look back at the month that was for the Tribe…

Overall: 13-13
Record at home: 5-9
Record on road: 8-4

Offense (AL rank)

.245 AVG (12)
.311 OBP (11)
.371 SLG (14)
.683 OPS (13)
93 R (12)
211 H (10)
18 HR (t-13)
68 XBH (12)
90 RBI (12)
15 SB (2)
76 BB (4)
187 K (9)
320 TB (13)
2.6 WAR (10)

Pitching (AL rank)

13 wins (5)
3.52 ERA (4)
3.64 rot. ERA (5)
3.12 rel. ERA (6)
9 saves (t-1)
233 IP (5)
23 HR (t-6)
53 BB (2)
217 K (2)
.231 AVG (1)
1.08 WHIP (1)
3.26 FIP (1)
4.1 WAR (2)

Notes: This was one of the best overall pitching months in franchise history. It’s the first time that Cleveland had 215-plus strikeouts with no more than 55 walks in a single month. If you tweak the criteria to 200-plus strikeouts and no more than 60 walks, it’s happened three times: July 2015, July 2014 and September 2014. This was also the first month a Cleveland staff had a 1.08 WHIP or better since May 1968 (0.93).

Player of the Month: OF Michael Brantley
Stats: .299/.389/.495/.884, 4 HR, 7 2B, 18 RBI, 14 BB, 8 K, 12 R, 26 games

Previous winners: Brantley (April), 2B Jason Kipnis (May, June)

Notes: Brantley became the first Indians batter to have at least 18 RBI and 14 walks with no more than eight strikeouts since August 2000, when Kenny Lofton achieved the feat.

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Danny Salazar
Stats: 2-3, 2.65 ERA, 34 IP, 35 K, 9 BB, .175 AVG, 0.88 WHIP, 5 starts

Notes: Salazar joins teammate Corey Kluber, along with Gaylord Perry, Sam McDowell, Luis Tiant, Herb Score and Bob Feller as the only pitchers in team history to have a month with at least 34 innings and 35 strikeouts, plus an opponents’ average of .175 or lower. Kluber accomplished the feat in July ’14. Before that, Perry was the last to do it for Cleveland (June 1974).

Previous winners: RHP Trevor Bauer (April), Kluber (May), Salazar (June)

Reliever of the Month: RHP Bryan Shaw
Stats: 1.00 ERA, 9 IP, 7 K, 1 BB, .167 AVG, 0.67 WHIP, 9 games

Previous winners: LHP Nick Hagadone (April), RHP Cody Allen (May), RHP Zach McAllister (June)

Notes: Shaw now has three months in his Cleveland career with no more than one walk, at least nine appearances and an ERA of 1.00 or better. While that has been done 17 times in team history, only Paul Assenmacher also did it three times (once each in the 1996-98 seasons).

Game of the Month (hitter): Brantley
July 22 at Brewers: 4-for-5, 1 HR, 1 2B, 2 R, 4 RBI, 8 TB

Previous winners: OF Brandon Moss (April 24), Kipnis (May 3), 1B Carlos Santana (June 16)

Game of the Month (pitcher): RHP Carlos Carrasco
July 1 at Rays: 8.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R/ER, 2 BB, 13 K, 89 Game Score

Previous winners: Bauer (April 9), Kluber (May 13), RHP Cody Anderson (June 21)

———————————————

Minor League standouts for July

Triple-A Columbus

Player of the Month: 1B/OF Jerry Sands
Stats: .333/.465/.603/1.063, 5 HR, 6 2B, 20 RBI, 18 BB, 19 R, 25 games

Previous winners: OF Tyler Holt (April), OF James Ramsey (May), 1B Jesus Aguilar (June)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Shawn Armstrong
Stats: 1.86 ERA, 9.2 IP, 15 K, 3 BB, .216 AVG, 1.14 WHIP, 2 saves, 10 games

Previous winners: LHP Bruce Chen (April), RHP C.C. Lee (May), Armstrong (June)


Double-A Akron

Player of the Month: OF Bryson Myles
Stats: .316/.398/.487/.885, 2 HR, 8 XBH, 15 RBI, 10 BB, 10 R, 5 SB, 22 games

Previous winners: OF Ollie Linton (April), SS Erik Gonzalez (May), OF Anthony Gallas (June)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Jeff Johnson
Stats: 0.00 ERA, 9 IP, 10 K, 4 BB, .103 AVG, 0.78 WHIP, 6 saves, 9 starts

Previous winners: RHP Cody Anderson (April), RHP Josh Martin (May), RHP Mike Clevinger (June)


Class A (high) Lynchburg

Player of the Month: OF Clint Frazier
Stats: .363/.442/.559/1.000, 3 HR, 12 XBH, 17 RBI, 16 BB, 21 R, 6 SB, 28 games

Previous winners: OF Brad Zimmer (April, May), 1B Nellie Rodriguez (June)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP D.J. Brown
Stats: 4-0, 2.91 ERA, 34 IP, 22 K, 4 BB, .246 AVG, 1.06 WHIP, 5 starts

Previous winners: RHP Adam Plutko (April, May), RHP Justin Brantley (June)


Class A (low) Lake County

Player of the Month: 3B Taylor Murphy
Stats: .290/.396/.441/.837, 3 HR, 5 2B, 12 RBI, 16 BB, 22 R, 27 games

Previous winners: None (April), 2B Claudio Bautista (May), 1B Bobby Bradley (June)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Luke Eubank
Stats: 0.96 ERA, 9.1 IP, 14 K, 2 BB, .129 AVG, 0.64 WHIP, 8 games

Previous winners: RHP Dace Kime (April), RHP Nick Pasquale (May), RHP Cameron Hill (June)


Class A (short-season) Mahoning Valley

Player of the Month: 2B Mark Mathias
Stats: .320/.361/.454/.815, 1 HR, 9 XBH, 11 RBI, 7 BB, 11 R, 23 games

Previous winners: OF Anthony Santander (June)

Pitcher of the Month: RHP Cortland Cox
Stats: 1.46 ERA, 12.1 IP, 15 K, 2 BB, .143 AVG, 0.65 WHIP, 5 games

Previous winners: RHP Shao-Ching Chang (June)


Arizona (Rookie) League

Player of the Month: OF Gabriel Mejia
Stats: .354/.463/.418/.881, 5 2B, 10 RBI, 15 BB, 22 SB, 18 R, 22 games

Pitcher of the Month: LHP Sam Hentges
Stats: 3.13 ERA, 23 IP, 31 K, 10 BB, .250 AVG, 1.39 WHIP, 5 games


Dominican Summer League

Player of the Month: SS Elvis Perez
Stats: .333/.448/.417/.865, 4 2B, 10 RBI, 18 BB, 17 R, 26 games

Pitcher of the Month: LHP Ramon Tieno
Stats: 4-0, 0.54 ERA, 16.2 IP, 15 K, 4 BB, .190 AVG, 0.90 WHIP, 9 games

——————————-

Month in review: April
Month in review: May
Month in review: June

–JB

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