One of the biggest storylines for the Cleveland Indians this season was what occurred during the trade deadline. Obviously, the most notable acquisition was reliever Andrew Miller, who’s currently mowing down any and all opponents deep into the postseason. The other headline was a trade which never happened.
The Indians, in dire need of an offensive boost and especially at catcher, made a deal for Milwaukee Brewers All-Star Jonathan Lucroy. All he needed to do was approve the trade (Cleveland was listed on his no-trade clause) and he would’ve officially improved a major hole in the team’s lineup.
Shockingly, Lucroy vetoed the deal, leaving the Indians in the lurch and fans in a frenzy. As a result, Cleveland was forced to carry on with a platoon of catchers who weren’t getting the job done at the plate.
Flash forward to last night, where the situation continues to develop in a big way for the Indians. Lucroy and the team he did end up with, the Texas Rangers, have been sitting at home for over two weeks. Cleveland, on the other hand, just notched a huge win in Game 1 of the World Series. A major reason why was the man Lucroy was supposed to replace.
Despite struggling through most of the season, catcher Roberto Perez has been stepping up in a big way throughout the playoffs, enough so that it’s difficult to believe any fans are still wondering what could’ve been with Lucroy.
Said result is certainly a shock, considering how badly Perez played midseason. Called up after starter Yan Gomes went on the DL, his batting average hovered around or below .100 for over a month. Those pining for Lucroy’s offense were not excited with what the backup option was providing.
However, Perez’s redeeming qualities helped him maintain his starting job. His ability to gun down runners was too good to ignore, and he continued to prove incredibly effective at pitch framing.
These qualities, especially the latter, are still alive and well in the postseason. Pundits have been raving about Perez’s framing, as it’s been a crucial factor in how Cleveland’s pitching has performed in general. It also explained why five of the nine Chicago Cubs batters Game 1 starter Corey Kluber struck out did so looking.
Perez’s play behind the plate isn’t terribly surprising. His offensive contributions from last night, though, understandably threw more than a few onlookers off guard.
Of the six runs Cleveland scored in its shutout victory, four of them were plated by Perez. He knocked in two home runs on the night, including a late no-doubt-about-it shot which officially put the game out of reach. Quite impressive for the ninth man on the Indians’ lineup.
Sure, Perez likely won’t be moving up much higher on the batting order this series. He only has six hits so far this postseason. That said, half of those hits have landed in the stands.
It all adds up to plenty of reason to feel OK with how the Lucroy ordeal ended. It’d be one thing if we were only talking about Cleveland making it farther than his team did in the postseason. It’s another story when the player deemed replaceable by Lucroy is one of the biggest all-around contributors for the Indians this October.
It also should be noted that it’s a bit deceiving to assume Cleveland has moved on past the Lucroy veto. Honestly, I doubt a day goes by in the postseason where he isn’t reminded by someone that he chose to decline a trade to a team which is now three wins away from a World Series championship.