The Cleveland Indians are five and a half games behind the Kansas City Royals in the American League Central, and only four games out of the American League wildcard spots. As of today, the Indians have a mere seven percent chance of actually reaching the playoffs, but, things could quickly change because of one imperatively important factor: Their schedule.
It is a well documented fact that playing division rivals is brilliant because, well, a team can gain a full game at a time on opponents when they play each other. For example; if the Indians sweep the Royals in a three game series, which could very well happen, Kansas City’s lead would be slashed from five and a half games, to a mere two and a half games. Thus, divisions can be won and lost with inter-division play.
In the final month of the season, the Indians meet division rivals the Royals and Tigers a whopping 13 times. Providing Cleveland play some good baseball, which they are more than capable of, the could make a surprise attack on the Central. If they don’t win the Central, the wildcard is still very achievable. We shouldn’t forget about the Indians just yet.
Their schedule is fabulous in another sense, too. Except a one game series against the Los Angeles Angels, they don’t really face any strong teams outside of their division. Series against teams like the Twins, Astros and Rays, all of whom have nothing to play for, all are very winnable. Last season they made a late push for the postseason and succeeded, things may be very similar this year.
Remaining games aside, their roster isn’t too bad, either. They have a Cy-Young contender in Corey Kluber, and an MVP contender in Michael Brantley. Carlos Carrasco has been very hot recently and there’s nothing to say he won’t continue his superlative form into September. When catcher Yan Gomes and outfielder Daniel Murphy return from the DL, they have a strong team. A postseason team, maybe.
In the last seven days, the Indians’ offense has been good. They rank seventh in team wRC+, ninth in team wRAA and and tenth in team OPS. They rank 15th in team ERA, eighth in team FIP and a brilliant third in xFIP. Overall their offense is solid, but will need to step up a little. Their pitching has been excellent but the Indians’ defense needs to pick them up. They will need to up their game, especially against the Royals and Tigers. They have the potential. Watch out for the Indians.