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Inbox: Time for Tribe to seek pitching help?

Beat reporter Jordan Bastian answers fans' questions
MLB.com @MLBastian

Is it too early to start thinking about trades? With Danny Salazar being moved to the bullpen, is it likelier that the Indians will target starting pitching before the non-waiver Trade Deadline in July?
-- Drew K., Colorado Springs, Colo.

Heading into the season, the rotation did not look like an area of much need. The staff was one of the American League's best last year and there was no turnover for this season. Two months in, Cleveland does look like a team that would at the very least explore rotation upgrades before the non-waiver Deadline.

Is it too early to start thinking about trades? With Danny Salazar being moved to the bullpen, is it likelier that the Indians will target starting pitching before the non-waiver Trade Deadline in July?
-- Drew K., Colorado Springs, Colo.

Heading into the season, the rotation did not look like an area of much need. The staff was one of the American League's best last year and there was no turnover for this season. Two months in, Cleveland does look like a team that would at the very least explore rotation upgrades before the non-waiver Deadline.

Things have been better of late, and the Indians did just get ace Corey Kluber back from the disabled list, but the group still has a way to go to return to its full potential. The rotation posted a 4.78 ERA in April and then a 4.81 ERA in May. Over the past two weeks, the starting staff has posted a 4.01 ERA in 14 starts, and it's been even more promising in the past week (3.12 ERA).

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Adding a starter to help solidify a staff led by Kluber and Carlos Carrasco could certainly be an option. Of course, having Mike Clevinger continue to blossom in the big leagues and getting Salazar's command issues straightened out could also have a similar impact. The next month will go a long way in evaluating if Kluber's return, combined with players getting over rough starts, will impact the Tribe's approach to the Trade Deadline.

What percentage of the Indians' runs have been scored via the home run this season? It seems that they are having a hard time manufacturing runs in other ways. What was the percentage last year?
-- Nathan I., Jenera, Ohio

Your hunch is correct. The Indians have indeed been more reliant on the home run through two months this season. Last year, Cleveland scored 35.3 percent (274 out of 777) of its runs via homers. This year, that rate has increased to 40.3 percent (100 out of 248). The Tribe is not stealing as many bases as last year, and the early production with runners in scoring position (.220 average and .686 OPS) is down from last season's overall showing with RISP (.260 average and .740 OPS).

While there is no question Edwin Encarnacion is a better talent than Mike Napoli, it's clear the Indians miss Napoli's leadership and, even to a extent, Rajai Davis also. Who on this team will provide leadership to get this team going?
-- Dave, Detroit

When a team isn't clicking on all cylinders, it's easy to wonder if there's a lack of leadership. I haven't seen that behind the scenes. The core group of Cody Allen, Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, Jason Kipnis and Kluber definitely lead by example. And there are veteran, experienced voices in the room (Andrew Miller, Boone Logan and Encarnacion, for example), along with an emerging leader in Francisco Lindor. I don't view this as an issue.

Tweet from @gobucksburson: Do you think the Tribe will call up Naquin soon and option Robertson? #indiansinbox

Tyler Naquin remains on the Minor League disabled list with a back issue. The Indians' outfield will be getting some help soon, with Lonnie Chisenhall potentially set for activation from the seven-day concussion list on Tuesday. When Chisenhall returns, Cleveland will need to clear a spot on the roster. When Naquin is healthy, it's tough to see how he'd fit in given the current outfield alignment. Like Chisenhall, Naquin plays mostly against righties and would likely handle right field, given Bradley Zimmer's presence in center now.

Video: CLE@KC: Zimmer works the count, hits a two-run jack

Tweet from @JFBlasier: Do you see B Zimmer in the Majors all year? Does Naquin see Cleveland before September 1st?Jesse -Naples, Fl

So far, Zimmer has been productive at the plate (.912 OPS), and the early returns in center field have been impressive (12.4 UZR/150 and one Defensive Run Saved in 115 2/3 innings). One AL evaluator said Zimmer is already the best center fielder that manager Terry Francona has had in his time in Cleveland. It looks like he is here to stay for the Tribe. As long as Chisenhall is healthy and producing, that complicates Naquin's path back to the Majors, barring some other unforeseen development in the outfield.

Can you elaborate on the details surrounding your awesome throwback baseball tweet from Colorado? That looked awesome to take in.
-- Jonathan M., Buffalo, N.Y.

For those who may have missed it, here's what Jonathan is referring to:

Tweet from @MLBastian: Caught some vintage Base Ball in Colorado Springs today with my dad and brother. Canon City Inter-Ocean vs. Denver-Rio Grande Reds. pic.twitter.com/LGiIB4dI7A

I flew out to Colorado ahead of the Indians-Rockies series to visit some family out here. On Saturday, my dad and brother and I attended a vintage base ball game in Colorado Springs. They have these clubs around the country, and the teams play under a set of early baseball rules. It was free to attend and fun to watch. The Indians' team curator, Jeremy Feador, actually plays for one of these teams (the Forest Citys) in Cleveland.

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.

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