Cleveland Indians Release 2016 Schedule

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On Tuesday, Major League Baseball released the 2016 schedules for all 30 teams. The Cleveland Indians were no exception, and a full, printable version of the schedule can be found here. But instead of clicking on that link, here is a helpful guide with all of the highlights, along with a few quick thoughts about key matchups:

Opening Day

The Indians will begin their 2016 campaign exactly as they end the 2015 regular season: facing off against the Boston Red Sox at Progressive Field. The Tribe will face the Sox for one game before resting a day, then playing the final two games of the series. Presumably, this unusual setup is designed to give the teams a possible makeup day in the event of inclement weather – a likely possibility in Cleveland.

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The Indians haven’t started the season at home since 2012, and the last three years the game has taken place on a Friday. This year, April 4 falls on a Monday. However, it’s hard to imagine that Cleveland’s streak of Opening Day sellouts would end this upcoming season, given the popularity of the Red Sox. Following the opening series with Boston, the Tribe will embark on their first roadtrip of the season.

Interleague Matchups

The AL Central meets the NL East next season, which means Tribe fans will have an opportunity to see some National League teams that they don’t typically get to watch. The Mets will be in town from April 15-17, while the Nationals visit Progressive Field from July 26-27. The Marlins also play in Cleveland from September 2-4. Meanwhile, the Tribe will have three Interleague series on the road, including the Phillies from April 30-May 1. Later in the season, they’ll travel to Atlanta from June 27-29 and face the Nationals a second time, from August 9-10.

The Indians will also continue their tradition of playing a split series against the Cincinnati Reds. This year, they’ll be in Cleveland on May 16-17 before traveling to Cincinnati for the final two games. Cleveland has dominated the Ohio Cup series in recent years, so it will be interesting to see if they can continue that trend.

Division Rivalries

The AL Central is likely to be a close division next season, and the Indians will face each of their rivals 19 times over the course of the year. This includes the final 23 games of the season, when they will play seven games each against the Tigers and White Sox, three games against the Twins, and six games against Kansas City.

Between the Indians’ young core, Kansas City’s playoff run, Detroit’s unlimited payroll, and even the Twins’ surprising 2015 success, the AL Central could be one of the toughest divisions next year. It’s vital that the Tribe maintains control of their own destiny, rather than getting themselves into the same trouble that plagues them this September. It’s much harder to compete for the Wild Card when only facing teams in the same division, so the Indians need to set their sights higher and stay in the AL Central race all season long.

Travel and Rest

The Indians schedule is heavy on days off to start the season, with four in the month of April and three in May. Beginning on May 27, however, they start a 20-game stretch. Those games include a 10-day home stand and a 10-day cross-country road trip to Seattle, Los Angeles and Kansas City. Then, they have a day off on either side of a six-game home stand before a 17-game stretch heading into the All-Star break.

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If the Tribe can make it through June, their schedule is relatively fair in terms of travel and days off. The only other exhausting portion comes in August, when a West Coast trip to Oakland and Texas is squeezed into the middle of a 16-game stretch. However, the rest of their schedule looks as though the Indians will have an easy travel season, if they can keep the rain outs and subsequent makeup games to a minimum.

Season Finale

The Indians will finish the year in Kansas City, with their final regular season game being played on October 2. The last home series will be against the White Sox, from September 23-25. Hopefully, those games will not be the last ones played by the Tribe in 2016, as there’s no reason to believe that Cleveland will not have a shot at the playoffs next season.

Playing the final 23 games of the year against their divisional rivals means that unless someone runs away with the AL Central, anyone can make a last-minute run for it. While this might seem unfair to teams that have played well all season and run into bad luck in September, it’s a much more exciting end to the year than watching teams play spoiler instead of contending.

Next: Triple-A Columbus Clippers Headed to Playoffs Again

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