The Cleveland Indians are dealing with some growing pains as their go-to stars struggle early on in the season. Third baseman Jose Ramirez and pitcher Corey Kluber, two players which the club relies heavily upon, have not been playing at their usual level.
Ramirez has only produced eight hits, six runs, and two RBI through 57 at-bats this season. A huge disappointment compared to his All-Star performance last season.
JoRam's patience and vision at the plate prompted him to be one of the league's best offensive weapons and an AL MVP candidate. But he's not played the part of an elite batter in 2019. Last season, Ramirez's ability to draw a walk was one of his best attributes, recording a base on balls at a 15.1% clip. This year, that aspect of his game is practically nonexistent, as he is walking in just 3.2% of his plate appearances.
Ramirez is also swinging more often at bad pitches, being less selective and making less contact with the ball, which is a huge change from his plate discipline from last year.
As for Kluber, during Sunday's start, the Indians' ace only lasted 2.2 innings, surrendering six runs on six hits. He also walked a career-high five batters in the outing. Kluber gave up a pair of dingers to Lucas Duda and Whit Merrifield in the second inning, along with two more runs in the third.
This is the second time this season that Kluber has lasted less than four innings on the mound. He has an egregious 6.16 ERA through four starts, which have comprised of 19 innings in total.
Perhaps the biggest concern with Kluber's early season woes is the dip in his velocity. The Indians' star pitcher struggled to hit 90 mph on the radar gun, something which he would do with ease in years past.
"It’s just he hasn’t gotten to the point yet where he’s a consistent Kluber. He will," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
As for now, the Indians are in a slump and need to figure out what they can do to turn it around. The return of Francisco Lindor in the coming weeks should certainly help, but the team is facing the cold reality of their offseason inactivity.