The Indians are 59-66. Somewhat incredibly, they are still only 5.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot. With 37 games to play, 5.5 games doesn't seem like an impossible number to make up, but it isn't just those 5.5 games that stand in their way, it's the huge number of teams ahead of them in the very clustered American League. The Texas Rangers currently hold that final postseason spot, and after them come the Angels, Twins, Orioles, Rays, and White Sox. Then you find the Indians (tied the the Tigers). That's a ton of teams to have to pass in under six weeks.
The Rangers are on pace for only 84 wins, and while it's almost certain that someone will get hot enough to win more than that, it's entirely possible that 86 wins would be enough to dance in October. Still, 86 wins would require the Indians to finish 27-10. Their best 37-game stretch all season was 21-16, well short of what they'd need. Hell, just to finish .500 would require a better 37-game stretch than they've had all year.
We don't have to write off the Tribe's postseason chances completely (though if you want to, feel free), but for the moment, let's say the don't go on an incredible run and reach the Wild Card Game...
What's the best case scenario for the rest of the season?
On an individual player basis, there's a lot to watch for. Francisco Lindor has been the team's best player in the second half (and among the very best players in all of MLB during that time), it'd be great to see him continue to play this well, and contend for the AL Rookie of the Year Award. If Miguel Cabrera misses some time between now and the end of the season, Jason Kipnis could win the Al batting crown, or Michael Brantley could. Either one of them might lead the league in doubles too. Corey Kluber could have a strong finish and make for an interesting test of how mediocre a W/L record Cy Young voters are comfortable with.
What about for the team though, what would you prefer?
Would you like to see them win as many games as possible, finish with a winning record for the third season in a row, and take second place in the division, or would you prefer they lose as many games as possible, and secure as high a draft pick for 2016 as possible?
Frankly, a pick higher than #6 is just as unlikely as the postseason, because the NL has some really bad teams that will be hard to "catch." The most important distinction among draft picks is the one that comes between #10 and #11, because the first ten picks are protected, while picks from #11 on down can be lost if a team signs a free agent who was given a qualifying offer. The Indians have a lot of money to spend for 2016, and could be in the market for that sort of player, but losing their 1st round pick would be a high additional cost.
While I'm watching the team, I can't not want them to win, but I think a protected pick is important. I suppose my ideal (non-postseason) scenario involves them playing a game better than .500 the rest of the way, finishing in 4th place in the AL Central (it'd be fun to beat Detroit, but I'd prefer the Tigers not have a protected pick), and getting the #10 pick.
How about you?