10 Orbservations is a regular Saturday piece at Everybody Hates Cleveland where EHC Managing Editor Steve Orbanek offers 10 quick sports takes, both on Cleveland topics and national ones.
1. I’ve got Indian Fever. Why even try to deny it? Okay, so, I get what you’re thinking. Why in the heck do I have Indians fever when the team is 79-74, remains an extreme long shot to make the postseason and just suffered an excructiatingly painful 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins in 10 innings? Sure, that’s the glass half empty approach, but I prefer to see the glass half full. And what I see is a pitching staff that has posted a 3.04 in the second half of the season, which is the fifth-best mark in the Major Leagues. I also see four starters (Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer) with front-of-the-rotation potential, who are only going to get better. Since I’ve already used a couple clichés, I’m going to stick with another — the future is bright. Except, in this case, the future is phosphorescent bright. I cannot ever recall a time where the Indians had more young, controllable, talented starting pitchers in the fold.
2. Outside of the aforementioned starters above, I did not make reference to T.J. House, who will be on the mound tonight and has considerable upside in his own right. On the year, House is 3-3 with a 3.42 ERA in 17 games and 92 innings of work. He has an xFIP of 3.15, which ranks 26th in all of baseball for pitchers who have thrown at least 92 innings. House also has a BABIP of .332, which is the ninth-highest mark in the MLB for any pitcher to throw 90 or more innings. In other words, he’s having this kind of success while still putting a great deal of balls in play. If the BABIP ever moves closer toward the mean, then one would think House’s numbers would be even better. At the very least, the left-handed House appears to be someone with No. 3 starter potential. He should be a viable option next season. He seems to have more potential than fellow Indians starter Zach McAllister ever had, which says something since McAllister was once thought to be a cornerstone of the rotation.
3. EHC’s Jim Pete and I recently discussed the idea of the Indians having two potential Silver Sluggers this season. For the outfield, Mike Trout and Jose Bautista seem to be locks, but who would then be third? Michael Brantley seems to have as good of a chance as anyone. For catcher, one would think that Yan Gomes is a lock. The Royals’ Salvador Perez could be in play as well, but if Gomes does not get this honor, then a crime has been committed against the Brazilian. It would not be the first time that’s happened this season though either as he was a clear All-Star Game snub.
4. How smart was General Manager Chris Antonetti when he decided against re-signing starting pitcher Justin Masterson this past offseason? While Masterson is a great person, he was absolutely atrocious on the field for the Indians this past season as he struggled with velocity and command and had a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts before being dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfield prospect James Ramsey. Let’s say Masterson’s ERA is just a run better in those 19 starts. Might the Indians still be in contention? There’s no denying that his performance had a crippling effect on the team this season. The right-hander has been even worse with the Cardinals as he has a 7.53 ERA in 28 2/3 innings of work and is now making sporadic bullpen appearances.
5. Josh Gordon took to Twitter this week with the following tweet:
— Flash Gordon (@JOSH_GORDONXII) September 14, 2014
I’m normally not one for bravado, but I must say that I loved this. For starters, the statement shows that Gordon openly accepts the punishment that has been placed on him for breaking the NFL’s drug policy. Also, I just love Gordon’s can’t-hold-me-down attitude. Obviously, he’s not going to make the Pro Bowl by playing in just six games (though I wouldn’t bet against him), but he will be a colossal boost once he returns. His return to the Cleveland Browns is reminiscent of a big trade deadline move in Major League Baseball. Let’s just hope the Browns can remain competitive up until the point that Gordon returns.
6. Speaking of that, it’s becoming more and more likely that the Browns can and will remain competitive this season. After defeating the New Orleans Saints 26-24 last week, there seems to be a renewed sense of optimism amongst Browns fans. The team has scored 27 and 26 points, respectively, in its first two games, which is reason for optimism alone. However, the biggest reason for optimism may be the play of quarterback Brian Hoyer, who has seemed poised and confident in the pocket. He has missed his fair share of throws as his 60 percent completion rate proves, but he’s made his fair share of throws as well. None was bigger than a 10-yard pass to tight end Gary Barnidge on fourth down that kept that final game-winning drive alive. How smooth did Hoyer look on that throw? Think Brandon Weeden, Colt McCoy, Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson ever makes that throw? Think any quarterback the Browns have had since returning to the league makes that throw?
7. Also, how about we give some love to emerging wide receiver Andrew Hawkins? Hawk has proven to be versatile slot receiver in these first two games, and he has to be loving that he came to Cleveland as it’s clear that he will be a vital piece in this offense. Through two games, he has 14 receptions, which is tied for fifth in the NFL. For now, Hawkins is underrated, but how long will that “underrated” label last? The dude can play.
8. EHC’s Mike Hattery picked the Browns to defeat the Ravens this weekend, and I have to say that I can’t help but follow suit. Hattery suggested the Browns would win 24-17. My guess? A 20-17 Browns’ victory. I really expect that Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell are going to have big games in this one. The two have looked to be an excellent one-two punch in weeks one or two, and there’s no reason to expect that to change. Plus, the off-field distractions are eventually going to have to catch up to the Ravens, right? Why not this week?
9. WWE will present its Night of Champions pay-per-view on Sunday night, which will be headlined by a SummerSlam rematch of Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena for the WWE Title. We all saw how the first go-around went as Lesnar just dominated en route to giving Cena arguably the most embarrassing loss of his career. It was like nothing we had ever seen as professional wrestling fans — it was beautiful. There are a myriad of questions surrounding how WWE books the rematch. My guess is that Cena may get a bit more offense in, but Lesnar will still come across as a dominant champion. The WWE has something unique at the moment as they have built Lesnar into a “Special Attraction” champion. I expect that they will continue to protect that this weekend. By the way, if you have not yet read Jim Pete’s piece about John Cena and Brian Andrew’s Night of Champions preview, be sure to do so. Must-read stuff.
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