Brantley was explosive this week. Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
The Cleveland Indians enter play tonight poised to make an eleventh hour run to the postseason. Although they sit on the outside looking in, a pivotal series against the Royals to start the final week of the season gives the team and fans true hope for October baseball. This Homestretch edition breaks down the biggest contributors over the past ten days and looks at the Tribe players that need to continue their hot streaks for at least one more week.
Bauer is relieved in the sixth against the Tigers. Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
10. Trevor Bauer (NR) – Bauer was the only Tribe starter to not appear in the last PPPR, but his efforts over the last ten days affords him the right to be on this list. Although he was without a decision, he pitched effectively. Bauer had a 9.00 SO/W average over the last 10 days, second only to Kluber. This is huge for a pitcher who has, at times, been fairly erratic. However, Bauer has allowed three homeruns in his two starts, and he needs to limit big innings over this upcoming week.
9. Carlos Santana (3) – Santana tumbled again this week, but he will be hugely important over the next seven games. Although posting a .211/.326/.263 split this week, Santana leads the club in walks and is third in RBIs with five. Something to keep an eye on: in 15 games this year against Kansas City, Santana is hitting .350 with 15 RBI and seven home runs.
8. Zach McAllister (NR) – After starting the year in the rotation, it is a tough task for many pitchers to adjust to life in the bullpen. However, McAllister showed he was willing to do whatever the club needed for the stretch run. He appeared in three games over the last 10 days, including one start. Over his 8.1 innings, McAllister struck out 11, walked none, and only allowed two earned runs.
7. Jose Ramirez (7) – Ramirez’s batting stats are not quite as impressive as they were at the posting of the last rankings. That said, he continues to find himself in big spots, and certainly will this week. Jose has played stellar defense, including during that Twins game in which is non-error, error contributed to the Tribe’s loss, and he must still this week for the Tribe to be successful. Ramirez pitched in four runs and three RBIs over the last ten while batting .231.
6. Yan Gomes (6) – Gomes moves up several spots as he has served as a catalyst numerous times over the course of the Tribe’s last ten. He was second on the club over that span with a .263 average and tied for tops in home runs (2) and triples (1). He had the sole lead in RBIs with nine. Cleveland will need him to keep the hot bat, but, maybe more importantly, he will also need him to play better defense.
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5. T.J. House (5) – House stays at the fifth spot, just as he has locked down the fifth spot in the Tribe’s rotation. He continues to be an immeasurable surprise. Over the past ten, he has only had one start in which he went five innings. He was not stellar, but he pitched well enough for the win. He allowed two earned runs, walked one, and struck out five. Cleveland does not need House to be stellar this upcoming week, just good enough, and he has a track record of doing that so far.
Salazar pitches against the Houston Astros. Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
4. Danny Salazar (6) – Salazar jumps up two spots. The young starter was spectacular over his last two starts despite not having a decision. In 13.0 innings, he struck out 16 while only walking two. Salazar is on pace for two big starts this week. He has pitched well against the Royals this year so far, 2-1, 3.86 ERA, and 16 strikeouts in 16.1 innings over his three starts. He has yet to face the Rays this year.
3. Carlos Carrasco (3) – Putting aside the suspended game tonight, Carrasco gets this final push going when he takes the mound at 7:05 against Danny Duffy. Over the past two starts, Carrasco has gone 1-1 with 17 strikeouts and three walks in 15.1 innings. He allowed four earned runs despite giving up just nine hits. He too is on pace for two unquestionably big starts this week. Carrasco has not started this season against either the Rays or Royals.
2. Michael Brantley (2) – Brantley went off over the last ten days. His split was .442/.478/.674. He scored six runs, knocked in six, and hit two home runs. He was also three out of three in stolen base chances. Brantley needs another All-Star type performance this week, and, being the leader Brantley is, expects to deliver.
1. Corey Kluber (1) – Words cannot express what Kluber has meant to this ball club not just over the last ten days, but for the entire season. However, over the last ten, Kluber has started twice, going 2-0, and racking up an eye-popping 28 strikeouts in 15.0 innings. He allowed three earned runs while scattering 14 hits and three walks. He reached the 250 strikeout milestone this past week, now at 258 for the season, and remains unquestionably the Tribe’s MVP for the season and a very legit Cy Young candidate.
Corey Kluber is a legit Cy Young candidate. Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports