There is a feeling of complacency when it comes to the 2018 Cleveland Indians season.
This Cleveland Indians season has seemed to drag on. Is it the horrible division? The dog days of summer?
Whatever it is, it has Cleveland fans begging for October baseball. But should they be begging for the playoffs already?
The recent series against the Kansas City Royals seemed like it dragged on for an eternity. Losing to the worst team in the division twice was a real head-scratcher. Horrible decisions and a blown fountain pipe led to a series loss.
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Cleveland has held a 10 plus game advantage in the central division for weeks now and many totes that the division has the potential to be the worst division in MLB history. Going into Tuesday’s game, the Indians own a 13 game lead on the Minnesota Twins who stand at 61-69.
With the second place Minnesota Twins below .500, it makes the AL Central the only division in baseball with just one team above .500. Given the sub-par play in the division, it would make sense that the Indians sprinted away with the division.
The Tribe has an above average record in their division, 38-19, but the play against the east and west divisions is what makes you question the creditably of the Indians. The Indians have struggled immensely against the AL West, having gone 14-18 so far. Simultaneously, Cleveland has played at an average level against the AL East, earning a 10-11 as of now.
The struggles against the other divisions in the American League are a cause for concern. It’s already mathematically proven that the Indians will be the only team to clinch a playoff spot from the central division. Therefore, Cleveland’s play against their own division has no impact on the team. They must focus on the bigger fish in the ocean.
Against Boston, Houston, New York, Oakland and Seattle, Cleveland has struggled excessively. The Indians have posted an 11-20 record against the aforementioned teams and are 2-5 against the Mariners and Yankees.
Cleveland played in a somewhat competitive division last season and I feel as if it helped. This season has lulled the team to sleep though as the bullpen, for example, has already experienced two rough patches this season. Every team experiences their problems throughout the season, some are longer than others.
The funny thing about slumps is that sometimes they are exaggerated. The Boston Red Sox recently faced a “slump” even though they are 6.5 games ahead of the New York Yankees and have a 90-42 record. People are questioning whether or not the Yankees might be able to sneak in and win the division. However, nobody is saying this about the Seattle Mariners who are only 7 games back from the Houston Astros.
Cleveland’s bullpen has struggled and manager Tito Francona has made questionable decisions late in games this season. With the recent acquisition of Brad Hand, it looked like Cody Allen had competition for the closing job. However, Hand has seen minimal exposure to the closing job. Even with his struggles, Allen will remain as the Indians closer.
Cleveland seems to maul the teams that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It’s like if the Cleveland Cavaliers were to beat the Utah Jazz 120-23, that’s great and all but they’ll never play the Jazz in the playoffs. The Tribe has had three blowouts this month and they’re all against the lowly teams in the MLB, two of which are in the AL Central.
How legitimate are the Indians? Are they just the best of the worst? Will they be able to show up this October when it matters most?