By: Daniel Wilkins
KEN BLAZE/USA TODAY SPORTS
I guess we can see that consistency is seeping into the AL Central. What I mean by that is that for long stretches of time, teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, and others, seem to make the playoffs as a guarantee. Sure, there are many factors that go into that, like payroll, the quality of the GM, and more, but, I think we can say the Indians can join this “consistent” club.
On Saturday, the Cleveland Indians clinched the AL Central division title for the third straight year. The last time they didn’t win was in 2015, when the Royals had their incredible World Series championship run that year. Cleveland finished with a 81-80 record, finishing in third behind Minnesota, with 83 wins.
The way they clinched was quite the oddball story. Cleveland ended up driving home fifteen runs… in the first four innings. After that, neither Detroit or Cleveland managed to score, cleaning up shop with a 15-0 final score.
Mike Clevinger was Cleveland’s starter, and he threw six shutout innings, and within the shutout, was only one hit by the opposing Tigers. On the offensive side, in the first, AL MVP candidate Francisco Lindor shared a pair of consecutive shots with Michael Brantley. Yonder Alonso also hit a 2-run dinger in the bottom of the 3rd.
Cleveland finished with 18 hits, while Detroit only squeaked two into their box score. Clevinger got his 12th win of the campaign, while Detroit’s starter, Michael Fulmer, continued his unlucky season with his 12th loss, compared to his 3 wins and a 4.69 ERA.
While the Red Sox and Indians have officially clinched, four divisions remain tight for division races. In other words, we’ve gotten the two easy decisions out of the way, now it’s time for the tough battles. The Red Sox are eleven games above the Yankees, and the Indians are 16 games over second-place Minnesota, with a 67-81 record.
In the AL, a lot of teams are already either completely, or on the verge of surrendering their playoff possibilities for this season. In the AL, we know these teams don’t have a realistic shot:
You’ll most likely notice that 9 teams are theoretically October-free in the American League, while only seven teams are in the same spot for it’s opposing number. While teams in the AL are “stacked” better and more pure, the NL has three divisions racing against each other to determine a winner, and we may see all three NL counterparts settle down on a winner in the last 2 or 3 days of the year. We might possibly even see divisions being stolen in game 162, or even game 163, if needed.
In 2016, Cleveland made it to the Fall Classic to verse the Cubs and lose in seven games, and the next year, have a 2-0 lead in the ALDS versus New York wiped away and sent home to the trash bin, as the Yankees eliminated Cleveland in 5.
My question for this article’s feedback is, where will Cleveland venture in this year’s Postseason? Will they win a ring? Or will they get wringed?