With little more than a month left of the season, the Cleveland Indians find themselves in a position to make a run at a playoff spot. It is the slimmest of chances, but considering how bad the team was for months at a time, I doubt many thought they would be just 5.0 games back of a Wild Card spot come September.
Wild Card standings as of August 27:
- New York Yankees (69-57), -- GB
- Minnesota Twins (65-61), -- GB
- Texas Rangers (64-61), 0.5 GB
- Los Angeles Angels (64-62), 1.0 GB
- Baltimore Orioles (63-63), 2.0 GB
- Tampa Bay Rays (62-64), 3.0 GB
- Cleveland Indians (60-66), 5.0 GB
- Detroit Tigers (60-66), 5.0 GB
FanGraphs’ Playoff Odds has the Tribe at a 4.0% chance of making the playoffs via the Wild Card. To fulfill that tiny possibility, the Indians would need to go through mostly their own division. Of their remaining 11 series, eight are against opponents in the American League Central. Unfortunately, that is likely to be the most difficult hurdle for the Tribe, as they are a mere 18-31 against divisional opponents.
Cleveland Indians remaining schedule:
- vs Los Angeles Angels (Aug 28 – Aug 30)
- @ Toronto Blue Jays (Aug 31 – Sept 2)
- @ Detroit Tigers (Sept 4 – Sept 6)
- @ Chicago White Sox (Sept 7 – Sept 9)
- vs Detroit Tigers (Sept 10 – Sept 13)
- vs Kansas City Royals (Sept 14 – Sept 17)
- vs Chicago White Sox (Sept 17 – Sept 20)
- @ Minnesota Twins (Sept 22 – Sept 24)
- @ Kansas City Royals (Sept 25 – Sept 27)
- vs Minnesota Twins ( Sept 28 – Sept 30)
- vs Boston Red Sox (Oct 1 – Oct 4)
The first series that starts tomorrow against the Angels may be the most important in a potential playoff push. Los Angeles is fading fast, having lost their six of their last ten, and it’s the closest thing to an "easy" series in this list of games. Even the White Sox, who are the current AL Central basement dwellers, always give the Tribe problems.
The Indians are fairly "hot" right now, but being "hot" is not a good way to predict what a team will do going forward. However, if we are finally seeing what the Indians offense was capable all year long, it may not be an issue of being hot or cold, but more about players finally living up to expectations.
It is also easy to get caught up in "well if the Indians called up Francisco Lindor to start the season they could have easily won five more games," but it’s hardly ever as simple as that. Granted, Lindor is a big part of why the Tribe is even in this position to begin with, but the Indians' April problems were much bigger than anything a rookie shortstop could have solved. The argument could also be made that he provided a spark by coming up in June; a spark that would not have existed and the Indians could be even worse off.
Regardless, it is an uphill battle for the Tribe, but it’s still a battle and that’s about all we can ask for at this point. There is no reason to do anything to jeopardize a player’s future to win a couple extra games (the Carlos Carrasco move suggests the Tribe front office agrees), but it has the potential to be an exciting September in Cleveland.