With the second half of the baseball season picking up on Friday night in Cincinnati, here are the standings that any Cleveland Indians’ fans should be worried about.
Houston 49-42 —-
Tampa Bay 46-45 3
Baltimore 44-44 3.5
Detroit 44-44 3.5
Toronto 45-46 4
Texas 42-46 5.5
CLEVELAND 42-46 5.5
Chicago 41-45 5.5
Boston 42-47 6
Those are the standings for the second wild card spot. And really, since the Twins are a game ahead of Houston, the Tribe is 6-1/2 games behind for a chance to host a wild card game.
That’s a more optimistic viewpoint than looking at the 11 game deficit facing Terry Francona’s team to win the American League Central Division, currently led by the Kansas City Royals.
The entire league is kind of in the same predicament, with the standing very bunched and no one truly out of the chase for the post-season.
And with the second half schedule starting out with three teams currently below the break even mark, starting with three in Cincinnati, two in Milwaukee, and then four at home against the White Sox, this is the time, if the Indians can make a move, to indeed gather some wins.
The question is, do these have the horses to put together a winning streak?
Certainly, they have the starting pitching. Although it is doubtful that Cody Anderson can continue to pitch like he has thus far, mostly because opposing hitters are hitting .189 against him, and he’s not striking out many, right now, every night Cleveland takes the field, their pitcher has the ability to throw a shutout.
And based on what happened last season from August 1st through the end of the season, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco are capable of being even better than they have pitched so far this season, and Trevor Bauer is definitely better than he was a year ago.
So, there is some history on Cleveland’s side.
But, the front office needs to improve the offense, and we aren’t talking about banking on a big second half from Carlos Santana and/or Brandon Moss, nor a healthy Nick Swisher bolstering the hitting. The need to bring in a bat, either from the minors or via a trade.
The Tribe also needs to bolster the bench by simply adding an extra player, because the way the starters are going right now, there is no need for Cleveland to carry eight relief pitchers.
Jeff Manship appeared in one game last week. Ryan Webb appeared in one game last week. And Kyle Crockett, just called up to replace Nick Hagadone, who went on the disabled list, pitched once last week. This proves there is no need to carry an extra guy in the bullpen.
Adding another position player, preferably someone else who can play centerfield, would provide a possible platoon partner for Michael Bourn (not going to beat that dead horse) who is not Michael Brantley. Brantley’s defense in CF has declined, perhaps because of his back injury, and that added stress seems to have affected his hitting, which the Indians cannot afford.
And if the starters get beat up in consecutive games, you can always go back to Columbus and call up a fresh arm. That’s what most big league teams do.
However, if the Indians are going to contend this season, they have to hit the ground running starting on Friday night. They cannot have another two or three weeks where they tread water and hope to have a shot.
Here’s hoping everyone in the organization has a sense of urgency.