The Indians couldn’t afford to lose the series against the A’s.
If you had told anyone that the Indians would drop the first two games of a series with the Oakland Athletics, not a lot of people would’ve been shocked; the A’s are a great ballclub. Tell them it was because the pitching fell apart, even fewer would be shocked; the Tribe’s starting pitching has been banged up all year. Tell them it was because the bullpen completely fell in on itself; well, now that’s something that would shock some.
The Indians bullpen has hit a proverbial wall and it’s happening at the absolute worst time possible. In back-to-back games with the A’s, a series the Indians needed to win to help keep pace in the Wild Card chase, the bullpen blew back-to-back games after gems from Triston McKenzie and Cal Quantrill.
Sure, the offense has to put up more than three runs in a game, but a lead is a lead. If you have a one-run lead or an 11-run cushion, you have to protect the lead if you’re a relief pitcher. The offense has to be better no doubt, but the offense got you a lead. It’s on you to protect it.
Playoff hopes fading but not completely snuffed out yet.
The Indians are 55-57, 10.5 games back for the AL Central Title, and nine back in the Wild Card. Anything is possible, the Tribe proved that in 2017 with their streak of 22-wins. Now, expecting 22-straight wins isn’t plausible, but a run of similar proportions is possible. String together a few sweeps over bad teams, and take a few series from good teams and heading into September you’re right back in it.
The Tribe can’t keep blowing leads though, especially leads against good teams. The bullpen may have been overextended in June but that’s not really an excuse. There are too many guys coming in and out of the ‘pen for that to be an issue. Especially considering all of these guys, save for Bryan Shaw, are in the middle of their athletic prime.
Fatigue shouldn’t be setting in. Perhaps it’s mental exhaustion but with how often the Indians call up and send down relievers to help freshen up the ‘pen, this is the last thing that should be happening. The team needs to find a way to shore up the bullpen in these pivotal games because McKenzie and Quantrill can’t be expected to pitch any better than they did against the A’s.
There’s still too much season left to give up.