The Major League Baseball All-Star is considered the midway point of the season, and that will occur a week from today in Miami, with five members of the Cleveland Indians participating.
However, the real halfway point of the campaign happened on Sunday, when the Tribe won the series against the Detroit Tigers with an 11-8 win, thus ended the first half at 44-37, a pace that would get them 88 wins in 2017.
The Indians seem to be getting it together though, as the last 27 games have produced a 16-11 mark, compared to the first 1/6th of the year in which the Indians were 15-12 and the second sixth of the season produced a 13-14 record.
The Tribe figured to half solid pitching this season, and that has come to fruition with Cleveland ranking second in the American League in ERA, trailing only Boston.
The starting pitching stabilized with the return of AL pitcher of the month Corey Kluber, who made his 2nd All-Star Game, and Carlos Carrasco could’ve been selected as well, with his 9-3 record and 3.50 ERA.
Trevor Bauer has started to be solid each time out and youngster Mike Clevinger has delivered more often than not.
The fifth spot is a concern right now, with Josh Tomlin struggling at 4-9 and the worst ERA in baseball, and Danny Salazar currently in the minor leagues rehabbing a shoulder problem.
It would not be surprised to see president Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff look for another solid starter prior to the trade deadline at the end of this month.
The inability of the starters to provide innings has caused the bullpen to spring a couple of weeks over the last 27 games. Andrew Miller was being overused and Francona recognized that and started using him just an inning at a time.
Cody Allen is also going through a period where he hasn’t been unhittable and leads the relief corps in allowing home runs.
Overall, when Tito goes to his ‘pen, the results have been outstanding. As long as the usage is kept under control, that should be the team’s strength.
The offense had a bit of a surge because of the hot hitting for a trio of Tribe batters: Jose Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion, and Lonnie Chisenhall.
Ramirez continues to show his 2016 season is no fluke, making his first All Star Game. The switch hitter is at .325 with 15 homers and a 963 OPS. He has been scolding since the first of June.
Encarnacion showed why he is one of the best power hitters in the AL over the last five years, and is now on pace for 34 HR and 90 RBI.
Chisenhall has had hot streaks like this before, but he is tied for the team lead in RBIs (with Carlos Santana) at 46 despite being in a platoon role, and has a 963 OPS.
However, the offense still needs Santana, Jason Kipnis, and Francisco Lindor to get going.
Santana only has 10 home runs and a 732 OPS, Kipnis still hasn’t hit his stride after dealing with a shoulder issue in spring training, hitting only .229 with a .284 on base percentage, which makes you wonder why Francona leads him off.
Lindor is showing signs he is human, batting just .229 since May 1st. He’s become pull happy, which he acknowledges, and we actually saw Detroit putting the shortstop basically behind second base when he was batting left-handed.
If those three get going, the Indians will have as formidable attack as any team in baseball.
Terry Francona feels his club reached a turning point on this recent stretch where Cleveland played 20 games in 20 days. If this is true, the Indians are heading for a second straight division title.