MLB Betting – Cleveland Indians 2020 Season Preview

Written by:
Phil Simon
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The Cleveland Indians were one of six AL teams to win more than 90 games in 2019. Unfortunately their 93 victories were the fewest among those six clubs leaving the Tribe out of the playoffs for the first time in four years. During their run of three straight AL Central titles from 2016-18, the Indians had the benefit of playing in a division going through a complete rebuild. The Twins exited last season to break the Tribe’s run and the White Sox are on the verge this year making things more difficult. Cleveland will contend thanks to a solid rotation but needs more offensive production to return to the postseason.

2020 Cleveland Indians At A Glance

Cleveland Indians World Series Odds +3000
Cleveland Indians AL Pennant Odds +1485
Cleveland Indians AL Central Odds +345

2020 Cleveland Indians Overview

Terry Francona has never had a losing season since taking the helm in 2013. The Indians won more than 90 games five times in his tenure, including the last four years, behind a pitching staff that never allowed more than 676 runs in any of the past seven seasons. The Indians reached the playoffs four times in that span, including a World Series appearance in 2016.

That run of success could be nearing an end, though. The Tribe continues to pinch pennies unloading plenty of talent that helped them win games. Gone are pitchers Corey Kluber, a two-time Cy Young winner, and Trevor Bauer. They also parted ways with Jason Kipnis and Yasiel Puig, leaving the offense in a state of flux.

The 2020 Indians will go as far as their pitching staff takes them. The front of the rotation remains stacked led by 15-game winner and All-Star Game MVP Shane Bieber, and the pen improved with the addition of Emmanuel Clase, who was acquired from Texas in the Kluber deal.


The strength of the team continues to be pitching. The Tribe posted the fourth-best ERA in the Majors and won 93 games with little help from Bauer and Kluber. Bauer was 9-8 before being dealt and Kluber pitched in only seven games. Bieber emerged as the ace going 15-8 with a 3.28 ERA and 1.05 WHIP across 214.1 innings with 24 quality starts among his 33 total. He also led the Majors with three complete games and two shutouts.

Joining the former UCSB Gaucho at the top of the rotation are Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco. Clevinger won 13 of his 21 starts with a 2.71 ERA averaging 12.1 Ks/9 IP. He’s been a regular contributor over the last three seasons winning a total of 38 games.

It wasn’t about the numbers last season for Carrasco. He missed several months after being diagnosed with leukemia and made a triumphant return in September. He went 6-7 with a 5.29 ERA, but the Tribe is hopeful a recovery returns the veteran to past form. Carrasco had an AL-high 18 wins in 2017 and averaged 15 wins between 2015 and 2018.

Zach Plesac and Adam Plutko each appeared in 21 games last season combining for 15 wins. They’ll get first crack at the bottom of the rotation with Aaron Civale and top prospect Triston McKenzie waiting for an opportunity. The Indians might be the most stacked team in the AL in terms of their starting pitching.

Brad Hand is a reliable closer posting 34 saves in 39 chances last year. The lively arm of Clase is projected as the set-up with Adam Cimber and Nick Wittgren bridging the gap. The group pitched well last season and should be better in 2020.


The Indians better hope for good health on their staff because offensively we could see more regression. They slipped from third in the AL in runs scored in 2018 to tied for seventh last year and with no major additions the numbers could continue to drop. There are a couple of potent bats, however, the lineup is lacking compared to other top teams in the league.

Francisco Lindor makes the offense go. The flashy shortstop hit .284 with 32 homers and a .854 OPS last season. Jose Ramirez will give the group a lift with a rebound season. He hit .255 with 23 home runs missing a chunk of time due to injury. Carlos Santana carried the club in the early part of the season finishing with 34 homers and a .281 average.

The raw power of Franmil Reyes will be on display for a full season. Acquired from San Diego last year, he hit 10 homers in 51 games and combined for 37 total. His average dipped to .237, though.

2020 Cleveland Indians Season Pick

The offense isn’t flashy but is has been consistently good over the last few seasons. Paired with a strong staff, the Indians just win games and they will be competitive in the AL Central. They have the talent to win the division but lack depth in the field to overcome any serious obstacles or compete for a World Series title in a loaded AL.

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- Phil Simon, Gambling911.com

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