Since we last looked at the standings for the first selection in the draft, the Indians have been making progress, going from fifth place to fourth place, and as things stand now, are just a game behind the Twins for the third selection, which also would give them the worst record in the AL Central (and of course, the entire AL). Here's the latest standings:
As hard as it seems to imagine, the Indians have not gained any ground on Houston in the past week, despite winning just one game since last Tuesday. The Astros are the Tribe's NL doppelganger, and with a 15-game lead to begin with, I've unofficially called the race, and have changed both the title of this series and its scope.
But there are teams in front of the Indians who have been losing at a lesser rate than the Indians. In the past week, the Indians have gained a game on second-place Chicago, and two games on third-place Minnesota. There are, however, some teams that are falling by the wayside: I'll probably be dropping Philadelphia and the Mets from the standings, as they're simply winning too much, as well as Seattle, who at this point have too much ground to make up to give the Indians any trouble at all.
So who do I think are the Tribe's biggest competitors for the second spot? Taken in reverse order:
- Colorado (5 games back of 2nd pick) - they are of course linked to the Indians via the Ubaldo Jimenez trade last year, and although both Alex White (86 ERA+) and Drew Pomeranz (93) aren't exactly setting the world on fire in their first full seasons in Colorado, both have been better than Jimenez (69). This week's schedule: 4 @ ATL (75-59), 3 @PHI (64-70).
- Miami (7 games back) - they're 2 games in back of Colorado, but the Marlins have been gaining quickly on the rest of the non-CLE/HOU competitors; they've gone 7-13 over their past 20 games, and seem to be in full tank mode; they've also got three games this week at Washington, one of the NL's best teams. Bonus points for ticking off their fanbase by dumping several players at the deadline in their first season in their new park. This week's schedule: 4 MIL (65-68), 3 @ WAS (81-52).
- Minnesota (3 games back) - the Indians can control their own destiny as far as the Twins are concerned because they'll be playing them six times before the season is over. Minnesota has gone 6-14 over their last 20 games, but the Indians have still been gaining ground on them, and they may overtake them by the end of the Detroit series. The Indians have already passed the Twins in runs allowed/game. This week's schedule: 3 @ CHW (72-61), 4 CLE (56-78).
- Chicago Cubs (leader) - The Indians start play today 4 games behind the Cubs, which is a significant lead at this time of year, but not insurmountable; if they gain a game per week, they'll catch the Cubs by the end of the season. This week's schedule is a tough one, though: 4 @ WAS (81-52), 3 @ PIT (70-63). But fear not; next week, the Cubs face the Astros, so the Indians make up a couple games in that week alone.