Cleveland Indians: Struggling AL Central Giving Them a Chance

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The AL Central refuses to run away from the Tribe

Often it’s not just the play of your team that determines your path in a season, but that of those in your division. For the

Cleveland Indians

, early returns weren’t good as they stumbled out of the gate while most of the division opened up hot. As we enter June, the overall state of the AL Central has cooled–outside of the Minnesota Twins who didn’t get the memo that they weren’t supposed to be very good this year–and left the Indians very much alive in the playoff hunt.

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As is the case for most of baseball, leads from the top to the bottom don’t stretch very far apart. There’s a handful of not very good teams (looking at you Milwaukee), but most races aren’t separated by more than five or six games. Such is the case for the Indians, who are just six back of division leader Kansas City and only two games back in the wildcard race. With the was the season started, these are both very good things.

Would you believe that the Indians have scored more runs than everyone in the division except for the Minnesota Twins? And the pitching, which is starting to come around but was expected to be a strength from the start sit with a 3.97 ERA, just above the league average (3.88). So a team that didn’t feel like it was giving any support to its starters, and a bullpen and No. 5 starter that have been less than impressive and the Tribe is still in it?

Thank you for small favors.

But it’s not going to stay like this. I have no idea how long the Twins will keep playing like this. And the Royals are struggling to score runs, which isn’t much different from last year. They’ll figure it out, but the Detroit Tigers are a shell of their former selves, with injuries holding them back. The White Sox can’t really seem to figure it out either, as they continue to hover around .500 with the Indians.

The Tribe have issues to address, but I don’t know that they have the resources to do so. The fifth starter spot remains a wild-card at best, as Shaun Marcum is currently the guy till another guy takes his spot to be the “new guy”. But the answer might night be in-house. They still have Jhoulys Chacin to try, but I won’t hold my breath.

Lonnie Chisenhall and Jose Ramirez make up one of the most offensively inept left sides of the infield in baseball. Don’t think Francisco Lindor can be an improvement and help the team? I say bring him up and let him prove it one way or the other. They can only tread water with these two for so long.

The bench may be one of the most impressive parts of this team, but none of this group is really built for everyday play. Mike Aviles needs to remain a super-sub. He can’t be expected to take over one of the struggling infield spots. He’s needed everywhere.

Other than the team just playing better baseball as a whole, they’re going to need to look for a No. 5 starter, but also decide at what cost that’s worth. They don’t have many attractive options on the MLB roster, so prospects it’s likely to be.

#FreeLindor. We can go back and forth on whether he’s ready or not. But what’s clear is the players on the roster aren’t getting the job done. I’d consider giving him some time at second and third at Columbus and make that call-up sooner than later.

Something’s gotta give because .500 baseball isn’t going to get the Tribe to the postseason.

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