CLEVELAND -- Every team encounters adversity throughout a baseball season. In the wake of setbacks, fans are often left wondering what their team might have accomplished if so many things had not gone wrong. For Cleveland, which is preparing for the World Series vs. the Chicago Cubs, the question is
CLEVELAND -- Every team encounters adversity throughout a baseball season. In the wake of setbacks, fans are often left wondering what their team might have accomplished if so many things had not gone wrong. For Cleveland, which is preparing for the World Series vs. the Chicago Cubs, the question is a little different this year.
Could the Indians have pulled this off if everything had gone according to plan?
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"This has been that year where everything goes right," Indians owner Paul Dolan said. "Even when something goes wrong, it turns into something right. I've heard 'Team of Destiny' mentioned a few times. It sure feels like something like that."
For every injury and setback, there has been a solution for this year's incredible Cleveland club. Things that went awry in Spring Training and throughout the regular season had a direct impact on performances on the October stage. For fans who are just now gettting to know this "True Tribe," as closer Cody Allen describes his team, here is a rundown of all that has gone wrong, and then right, for this year's Indians.
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What went wrong:Abraham Almonte suspended 80 games on Feb. 26
What came out of it: A positive test for a performance-enhancing substance cost Almonte -- projected as Cleveland's Opening Day center fielder -- the first half of this season. With Almonte out of the spring equation, rookie Tyler Naquin won a job. The suspension also led to the Tribe acquiring veteran Coco Crisp in an Aug. 31 trade with the A's, because Almonte was ineligible for the postseason. Crisp hit a home run in the American League Central-clinching win, and he belted a long ball in the clinching games of the AL Division Series and the AL Championship Series, too.
What went wrong:Carlos Carrasco injures left hamstring on April 24
What came out of it: Carrasco's injury while covering first base in a start against Detroit cost him all of May. That setback, combined with a poor early-season showing by Cody Anderson (Cleveland's No. 4 starter to begin the year), led to Trevor Bauer moving out of the bullpen and back into the rotation. Bauer remained in the starting staff for the remainder of the year and turned in a career-best campaign.
What went wrong:Marlon Byrd suspended 162 games on June 1
What came out of it: For the second time in five months, a PED suspension struck a blow to the Indians' already-depleted outfield. When Byrd was lost for the season, though, that paved the way for Naquin to stay in the big leagues. For the first two months, Naquin bounced between Cleveland and Triple-A Columbus. On the day the Byrd news came down, Yan Gomes also delivered a walk-off single in extra innings against Texas. That win provided an emotional lift on a tough day for the team.
What went wrong: Indians play 19 innings in Toronto on July 1
What came out of it: In order to put the final touch on a club-record 14-game winning streak, the Tribe had to outlast the Blue Jays in a grueling six-hour marathon at Rogers Centre. The 2-1 victory ended with Bauer coming out of the bullpen to log five scoreless innings. That bought time for Cleveland's offense, which finally broke through in the form of a go-ahead homer by Carlos Santana in the 19th. Bauer's performance went a long way in earning the trust of his teammates and coaches.
What went wrong: Gomes separates right shoulder on July 17
What came out of it: One day after Gomes' teammates held a mock ceremony (complete with "sacrificing" a rotisserie chicken) to free the catcher from his offensive struggles, he sustained a shoulder injury in a fall at first base. Gomes did not start again for Cleveland until Oct. 2, giving backup Roberto Pérez the chance to step into the lead role behind the plate. Gomes' injury forced Perez to return early from an injury of his own (fractured right thumb). Perez's offense took time to get going, but his defense has been on full display, especially throughout the postseason.
What went wrong:Juan Uribe released on Aug. 5
What came out of it: The Indians brought the veteran Uribe into the fold in Spring Training, handing him the keys to third base. After Uribe hit .206 in 73 games, Cleveland decided to move on, giving Jose Ramirez a chance to shine as the starter at the hot corner. Ramirez, who learned a lot from Uribe in the first half, stepped up as an invaluable piece to the Tribe's offense down the stretch. The added bonus was that Ramirez could play exclusively at third after splitting his time as a left fielder earlier in the season.
What went wrong:Michael Brantley undergoes season-ending surgery on Aug. 15
What came out of it: Brantley played 11 ineffective games between late April and early May, but his comeback from right shoulder surgery kept starting and stalling. His four-hit, three-RBI showing on May 5 turned out to be a tease, as Brantley played his last game on May 9, went on the disabled list on May 14 and then had his season end with surgery to address a biceps issue. Brantley's absence, however, helped free everyday at-bats for Ramirez, helped Rajai Davis play enough to lead the AL in steals and led to the Indians acquiring lefty-mashing Brandon Guyer at the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
What went wrong:Danny Salazar sustained forearm injury on Sept. 9
What came out of it: Salazar's season was filled with arm issues. He had shoulder fatigue in June and then elbow problems in July and August. Finally, the righty's regular season ended with a right forearm strain on Sept. 9. That setback led to Josh Tomlin being put back in the rotation, even though he went 0-5 with an 11.48 ERA in August. Tomlin posted a 1.69 ERA in September and has since turned in critical starts to beat the Red Sox and Blue Jays in the postseason.
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What went wrong: Carrasco fractures right hand on Sept. 17
What came out of it: Two pitches into his start against the Tigers, Carrasco was hit on the right hand by a line drive off the bat of Ian Kinsler. That not only ended Carrasco's season, but it also initiated an incredible showing by the bullpen. The Tribe's relief corps combined for 10 shutout innings, and Ramirez delivered a walk-off hit to take Detroit down, 1-0, in extras. The game also fueled the bullpen with confidence that it could overcome adversity on the fly -- something that carried over into October.
What went wrong:Corey Kluber exits with right quadriceps injury on Sept. 26
What came out of it: While Kluber's exit was precautionary in nature, his minor injury created some question marks for the season's final weeks and the rotation alignment for the playoffs. The setback did, however, allow rookie Ryan Merritt to get a start on Sept. 30 in Kansas City. The lefty handcuffed the Royals over five innings, impressing the team's decision-makers and helping the Tribe secure home-field advantage in October.
What went wrong: Bauer cuts right pinkie finger on Oct. 13
What came out of it: Bauer lacerated his pinkie while repairing his drone, causing a ripple effect in Cleveland's rotation. In Game 3 of the ALCS, Bauer attempted to pitch through the injury -- one that required 10 stitches -- but he exited after only 21 pitches when the cut opened and began dripping blood. Similar to when Carrasco was hurt, the bullpen then turned in a performance for the ages in defeating Toronto. The injury also opened the door for Merritt to start Game 5, in which he worked 4 1/3 scoreless innings to help the Indians reach the World Series.
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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.