Indians

Why you need to watch the last four Indians games

Champagne was sprayed and spilt and perhaps even a bit consumed within the confines of Progressive Field on Wednesday night. A couple weeks after the Cleveland Indians wrapped up their own 2017 postseason berth and AL Central division crown, the Minnesota Twins backed into the second AL Wild Card position after the Los Angeles Angels lost in extra innings to the Chicago White Sox. While it is worth a tip of the cap to the Twins outplaying their metrics en route to earning a bid into October, it is satisfying Paul Molitor and his crew were forced to celebrate after a loss as the Tribe controlled the Wednesday night affair and won, 4-2.

With the postseason bids wrapped up, one might wonder why it would be worth watching the final four games of the Indians regular season before the ALDS kicks off next Thursday. Well, the Indians are in a bit of a unique position where there are many underlying arcs still playing out over the course of the last weekend.

Here is why you need to watch.

No. 1 seed still in play

The Indians currently sit at 99-59, which is a full game ahead of the Houston Astros over whom they hold the tiebreaker. The lead might as well be two games as the Astros must finish with a better record than the Tribe to claim the first overall seed. If the Indians go 2-2, then the Astros would need to win out their final four contests to jump them.

The Dodgers sit with a similar stranglehold on the overall No. 1 seed in the MLB postseason. They would need to lose out and the Indians win out for the Tribe to claim that position.

The most likely scenario here is that the Indians go over 100 wins for just the third time in franchise history, await the AL Wild Card Game winner for their ALDS matchup, and would need anyone other than the Dodgers to advance to the World Series to hold home field advantage through the postseason. But, it is not like opponents haven’t gifted the Indians favors in the past. So, we’ll see.

Josh Tomlin vs Danny Salazar

Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer have locked up the first three rotation positions. It is possible that the Indians will not need a fourth starter, but, should the need arise, they have a decision to make between Tomlin and Salazar with Mike Clevinger having been moved to the bullpen. By the way, Clevinger is settling into his role nicely as he pitched on back-to-back nights and has yet to surrender a run in his new role.

Tomlin has pitched well in the second half of the season. Despite his last start, he has a 3.38 ERA in eight starts with a .256/.274/.419 slash against. The Little Cowboy has been with the team for a long time and is a big reason they were able to scrape their way to within a win of a World Series championship last season.

If Salazar is right though, there is no decision. He has the potential to be absolutely filthy with his pitches especially if he is allowed to treat his start as a three-to-four inning stint with Clevinger coming in to provide some middle relief innings. Salazar looked the part on Wednesday as he had nine strikeouts in just 4.2 innings pitched. Tomlin gets one more start this weekend, but pay attention to team messaging about how Salazar is feeling too.

Injury Watch

Carlos Santana has given Tribe fans a reason to breathe a sigh of relief as it appears his shoulder is not damaged from the weekend collision. Jason Kipnis is still ramping up- as painful as watching him attempt to play center field might be on the eyes. Yandy Diaz and Lonnie Chisenhall came back on Wednesday from injuries. Some of their initial timing issues demonstrate why it is so imperative for Michael Brantley to get some at bats this weekend if he has any realistic opportunity of helping the team in the ALDS.

Oh, and that Andrew Miller guy appears to be back in top form after a slow climb back from his own injury. That might be sort of important.

  • scripty

    Browns-Jets?

    http://www.reactiongifs.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/jdl.gif

    /actually was given bleacher seats to this last year and was about 5 feet from GPODAWPND and had people calling me to see where I was.

  • scripty

    My guess is they have no illusions out there on full rebuild but you can still get some people to renew STH now so you can’t say that. Then you get teams hot at winter mtgs for Josh D.

  • Steve

    “Chiss had a horrific at bat and needs some more reps.”

    Yup yup yup. He should have gotten at least an AB on Tuesday, and a couple yesterday. My only gripe about the team is Francona’s circle of trust.

  • jpftribe

    Just chased a chin high fastball for strike three today.

  • mgbode

    He is so far behind everything right now.

  • Steve

    I’m concerned that Chis not getting back in the swing of things could cost him his playoff roster spot, with Kipnis now entrenched in CF, and them be willing to carry Brantley as just a pinch hitter.

  • mgbode

    It is certainly possible, especially for the ALDS. We’ll see if he can correct things this weekend.

  • Steve

    My issue is exactly what Andre Knott just said during the game. The team values Urshela’s versatility, and that’s not something we really need come postseason.

    Also the team thinks Diaz needs regular ABs, but they sit him quite often. Francona speaks out of one side of his mouth than acts out of the other.

  • Steve

    Brantley seems like he will get a chance to get some swings, maybe Guyer comes back too, Kipnis needs all the reps he can get in CF, and apparently Bruce, of the 99 OPS+ in an Indians uni, has the job security of Lindor. I’m expecting Chis to find himself the odd man out.

  • Chris

    Haven’t seen him pitch, but Price’s stats through three relief appearances through last night look pretty damn sharp.
    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.fcgi?id=priceda01&year=2017&t=p

  • mgbode

    Sure, but NYY still has the tougher BP.

  • JM85

    This is one of the best teams in club history. What else is on? The Browns losing again?

  • CBiscuit

    I think Santana is worth $20m…but the question is do we want him around for a 5 year contract? He’s going to be in his mid thirties by then.

  • Chris

    You’d like this… I was listening to the Twins broadcast today during the 4th and 5th innings. Their booth guys were going on about how the “Indians pitching staff leads the world in strikeouts”. Then they proceeded to talk about how the strikeout kings will help hide Kipnis in CF most games… until the inevitable Naquin-esque F-up in a playoff game bites them in the butt. Just a few batters later, the Twins tagged up from second to third on (what sounded like) a rather routine fly to center.

    As an aside, it’s great listening to TWO people in the booth that can talk baseball. When Hamilton is in, we still only have half of that.

  • Steve

    Per. The length is the issue. I’d give him the Encarnacion deal, but would have trouble guaranteeing year four and, of course, five.

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