The Cleveland Indians have entered the home stretch of the Major League Baseball schedule, and are getting better as the season continues.
If you read the blog on a regular basis, we like to break down the schedule in 27 games increments, representing 1/6th of the season.
To date, the Tribe’s records in these sections are as follows:
First 27 games: 15-12
Games 28-54: 13-14
Games 55-81: 16-11
Games 82-108: 15-12
Games 109-135: 20-7
As is the norm, Terry Francona’s teams seem to get better as the season rolls on. Remember in 2013, Tito’s first season in Cleveland when the team went 21-6 in September to earn a berth in the wild card game?
In 2014, the Indians were below .500 after 81 games, but went 46-35 in the second half and were in the playoff race until the final weekend of the season.
A year later, Cleveland was again below .500 in the first half (38-43), but again went 43-37 in the second half after restructuring the roster by trading Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, and bringing up top prospect Francisco Lindor.
Last year, was an anomaly, as the Tribe went 49-32 in the first 81 games, and “slipped” to 45-35 in the last 81, but the season culminated in a classic World Series, losing in extra innings in Game 7 to the Chicago Cubs.
This season, the Indians have done well in each 27 game split, the worst record in that span being a game under the break even mark.
However, in the last third of the 2017 campaign, Francona’s crew has gone into hyper drive, going 20-7, and currently riding a 12 game winning streak.
Last season’s club record 14 game span without a loss is in jeopardy. The previous record of 13 consecutive wins was set in 1951, lasting 55 seasons. The new record might be erased in one year.
The last team to have winning streaks of 12 or more games in back-to-back seasons were the 1970-71 Baltimore Orioles, teams which both reached the World Series, part of three straight berths in the Fall Classic (1969-71).
Offensively, the Tribe has been led by their pair of under 25 year old stars, INF Jose Ramirez and Lindor.
If you want reasons to feel good about the future of this organization, you can point to the two best position players being 24 (Ramirez) and 23 (Lindor).
The former leads the American League in extra base hits, while the latter just set a club record for home runs by a shortstop with 26 dingers.
And with injuries to stalwarts Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, and Lonnie Chisenhall, Francona received contributions from young players like Yandy Diaz and Gio Urshela.
Veteran Austin Jackson, who we didn’t want to make the club out of spring training, has also been huge, hitting .318 with an 875 OPS.
As much as the offense has produced, the hot streak has been keyed by the starting pitching. Corey Kluber is having a season that could earn him his second Cy Young Award, despite missing several weeks with a sore back.
Danny Salazar has been in and out of the rotation, but Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger have picked up the slack. Bauer is tied for the league lead in wins, and Clevinger is 8-5 with a 3.50 ERA.
And we haven’t mentioned the steady Carlos Carrasco, who is 13-6 with a 3.67 ERA and should reach the 200 strikeout mark on the year.
The Tribe is finishing the season strong. And when they get Andrew Miller back, assuming he will be healthy, they may get even stronger.