By: Danny O’Malley
As the hunt for October begins to get real, it’s hard to sit back and say that I am not surprised the Cleveland Indians still have a chance to squeeze into a wild card spot. When looking back on the season and diving into statistics, it’s hard to believe where the team currently stands.
The squad has no pitchers with 15 wins or more, a team ERA of 3.89, its lead home run hitter Nick Swisher has only 20, and its RBI leader Jason Kipnis has only a decent amount of RBIs with 78.
Nonetheless, the Indians are battling with the likes of Texas, Tampa Bay, Baltimore and New York for a final wild card spot.
With roughly 10 games in the regular season remaining, it’s looking to be a close finish.
The key for the Indians will be how well their pitching staff can continue to pan out during the last stretch.
Pitchers such as Ubaldo Jimenez, Corey Kluber and Scott Kazmir have done decently well this season but have been inconsistent.
The loss of stud Justin Masterson has also put a damper on the pitching staff.
However, bullpen pitchers Joe Smith and Cody Allen, who both have ERAs below 2.7 and combine for 121 innings pitched, have been crucial to the success of the team in late game situations.
The newly acquired Marc Rzepczynski has placed a 1.15 ERA in about 16 innings pitched, and if he can continue to perform with these numbers he could be a good support within the bullpen.
As far as the offensive side of the ball goes, the Indians have faired quite well and are sixth in the league in runs scored, fifth in RBIs and eighth in on-base percentage. The problem with this team is that they tend to go on an offensive tear in one game only to struggle to put a few runs on the board in the next.
If the Indians can string together games of mediocre offensive production, I believe that they will have an opportunity to make it into the playoffs.
The good news for Indians fans is that out of all the teams in the race for the wild card, Cleveland probably has the easiest road.
It hosts a three game series to a bad Astros team, a two game series against a miserable White Sox team and ends with a four game series in Minnesota.
With the Indians not making the playoffs since 2007, this could be a big moment for the organization to show that they are a team to be reckoned with.
It’s safe to say that the Tribe has given fans a reason to get excited for next year even if they don’t secure a playoff birth.