The Cleveland Indians have hit the all-star break and are very clearly in contention for a playoff spot despite a .500 record for the first 94 games of the season.
The big question is can the Tribe put together a strong enough second half to make up the 3-1/2 games currently separating them from the American League’s final playoff spot. Right now, that belongs to Seattle.
The other serious contenders to play in the wild card game are Kansas City, Toronto, and New York. The first wild card spot looks like it belongs to the Angels. Quite frankly, several other teams could get back in the mix with a good hot streak too.
All four of the primary contenders are looking to add to their roster and to be fair, Tribe GM Chris Antonetti has said he is looking to upgrade the Indians as well.
As we have written in the past, the Tribe has been a slave to inconsistency throughout the roster for much of the season. The only real steady players this year have been Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, Mike Aviles on the offensive side, and Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and the back-end of the bullpen (Scott Atchison, Bryan Shaw, and Cody Allen).
Management’s problem in evaluating the rest of the roster is that they look at the good side of each player’s streaks as what they truly are. For example, yesterday it was said that Asdrubal Cabrera was getting hot at the plate, on a 7 for 16 run.
However, he’s put together three or four good games in a row before, and then follows that with a 2 for 13 streak. That’s the kind of player he is, and he’s not the only one, he’s just the one picked for this example.
Look, not all major league players are great, nor are they steady day in and day out. However, you have to recognize that the one’s who can’t maintain regular production are not good players, and the team should be looking to improve at that spot.
The worst thing for a coach or manager to deal with is inconsistency. It drives them crazy if they don’t know what to expect when they put a player into the game.
It’s even worse for a starting pitcher, and that’s been the Tribe’s biggest problem as to why they haven’t been able to put together a long winning streak.
Justin Masterson has been mostly terrible since the middle of May. Josh Tomlin almost threw a perfect game against Seattle, but that was really his only good start in a six start span.
Zack McAllister started out 3-0 in his first five starts, but hasn’t won since. T.J. House has pitched well in some games, but has had trouble pitching five innings in several others.
It’s difficult to put together winning streaks when three fifths of your starting rotation can’t give you a solid six innings on a regular basis.
The lack of consistency is the biggest reason the Indians need to pull the trigger before the end of the month and they should look to bring in a right-handed bat, a spot Ryan Raburn hasn’t been able to handle thus far (.197 average, 2 HR), and a starting pitcher who can provide six or seven solid innings on most nights.
The biggest bait Antonetti may have is 2B Jose Ramirez, hitting .298 with a .353 on base percentage at Columbus. Ramirez is blocked in Cleveland by Jason Kipnis, and probably should be playing in the big leagues now.
Here’s hoping that the Tribe is willing to do something substantial at the deadline. It’s tough to rely on going 21-6 in September every year.