Here we are, September 1, 2017. The home stretch for Major League Baseball is beginning. Here is my take on how I think the Indians stack up.
First of all, health. If they Indians get and stay healthy, they are built for the playoffs. Their pitching staff has been lights out for the most part, and stack up well against any other team that will be in the playoffs. But of course, they need to be healthy. The starting rotation has been battling injuries all year, and they have been fortunate to get great results from the guys stepping in to fill their spots. With Tomlin and Salazar battling nagging injuries, guys like Clevinger and Merritt have produced better results than anyone could have imagined. If Danny and Josh are able to rejoin the team, Tito may have a difficult decision on his hands, especially when it comes to shortened playoff rotations.
Then, Andrew Miller. His health is probably the most key because of his versatility, and ability to shut down an offense at pivotal points in the later innings. There’s no doubt that he is the anchor of the bullpen, and takes a lot of pressure off of the starters, as well as Shaw, Smith and Allen. They will need him back and healthy to duplicate their success from last year.
The position players for some reason don’t make me as nervous. With Kipnis, Brantley and Chisenhall missing significant time, their replacements have been spectacular. The addition of Jay Bruce seems to have brought life back into an often stagnant offense. The versatility and depth of the lineup has been key to the shuffling needed to keep going, and has even been more productive as of late.
The competition is tough though. Houston has added pitching and offense at the deadline, and really look like they are going to be a tough out in the playoffs. Although Verlander has not been as dominant as he was in years past, he is a solid addition to an already strong rotation.
Boston got the Indians again in the regular season. The bright spot however, they can beat Chris Sale. He is beatable and the postseason struggles of Price, make the Red Sox less of a threat than I would have thought earlier this year. Although they have a powerful offense, I am confident in the Indians ability to take care of them.
The wild card is still up for grabs, but all of the top contenders are beatable. They all have major flaws that the Indians should be able to exploit. It’s not a guarantee by any means, but the Tribe is going to be difficult to beat in a five or seven game series.
With 30 games left, a lot can happen. I expect the Indians to actually end up with the best rest record in the AL. I think they can erase the 3.5 games between them and the Astros, and separate themselves from the Red Sox. In the ALDS, I expect them to handle whoever comes out of the wildcard came. The ALCS may pose an issue to the Tribe, but I think the Indians will ultimately move on to the World Series. The World Series should be another epic showdown. I’m not sure if the Indians will be able to take the title this year, but I think the way they are built they have a chance. It’s going to be a fun ride.