The KC Royals won’t be Cleveland’s doormat this season

(Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals
(Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Tribe added some talent, but still won’t be as good as it has been.

To help offset its losses at the plate, Cleveland looked to division rival Minnesota and signed Twins’ free agent outfielder Eddie Rosario to a one-year deal. He won’t replace Lindor but, realistically, who can?

Rosario played a key role in Minnesota’s recent four-season success (two AL Central championships, two second-place finishes, and three playoff berths). He averaged almost 20 homers and 65 RBIs, and hit .277 in six years with the Twins.

The Indians also “added” second baseman Cesar Hernandez by re-signing him in January. Last season was Hernandez’s first with the Tribe and he made it a good one, tying for the league lead in doubles (20) and hitting .283 with a .355 OBP.

Taking over at shortstop is Andres Gimenez, who came over from the Mets in the Lindor-Carrasco deal. He was serviceable for New York last year, hitting .263 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 49 games. But he isn’t Franco, and never will be.

What will Cleveland’s pitching look like this week against the KC Royals?

Without Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber is now the undisputed ace of the staff, a solid righthander who owned baseball last season with a Cy Young Award-winning 8-1, 1.63 ERA record. He led the majors in wins, strikeouts (122), SO9 (14.2), and FIP (2.07). And he was 15-8 in 2019 and 11-5 as a rookie in 2018.

Bieber lost his Opening Day start last week but, if the rotations and weather hold, will start against the Royals Thursday.

Plesac is Cleveland’s No. 2 starter. He clearly spent some time in Cleveland’s doghouse last year but went 4-2, 2.28 in eight games. He’s 12-9, 3.31 in three Cleveland seasons.

After Bieber and Plesac come youth and inexperience. Aaron Civale (25 with 23 big league appearances), Logan Allen (23 with 12), and Triston McKenzie (23 with eight) should round out the rotation. Allen, the only southpaw in the group, will probably face KC’s Danny Duffy this afternoon.

The bullpen is the center of uncertainty. There is no heir apparent to the departed Hand. Expect Cleveland manager Terry Francona to experiment early in the season before settling on regular relief assignments.