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2018 Cleveland Indians: Contenders or pretenders?

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 29: Yonder Alonso #17 and Michael Brantley #23 of the Cleveland Indians celebrate a 7-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field on May 29, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 29: Yonder Alonso #17 and Michael Brantley #23 of the Cleveland Indians celebrate a 7-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field on May 29, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /
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The Cleveland Indians are off to a 43-34 start through 77 games. They were expected to be atop the division but also one of the best in baseball. They have fallen slightly short of expectation so far.

The Cleveland Indians are favorites to win the AL Central but that is not saying a lot. The division is the worst in all of major league baseball.

The Indians got off to a rough start but have found their stride winning seven in a row and going 7-3 in their last 10 games. Many; however, want to contribute the Indians winning and their record to playing in the central.

I am here to tell you that should not be the case. This team has World Series potential despite being in the worst division in baseball.

Cleveland, at the time of this story, sports one of the best offenses in major league baseball. This comes after an atrocious start in April to becoming the leagues best offense for the month of May and continuing to be great since.

The Indians rank sixth in doubles, second in home runs, fourth in RBIs, fifth in stolen bases, seventh in average, seventh in on-base percentage, third in slugging and fourth in on-base-plus-slugging in all of baseball. This offense is potent enough to go up against anyone in October and compete.

The offense is just one key area of this Indians team. The biggest strength still lies in the starting rotation. Indians starters are second in ERA, second in innings pitched, second in strikeouts, tied for eighth in average against and second in WHIP. The starters have also induced 38 double plays, tied for fifth best.

This starting staff of Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger is not a rotation to face in October. The pitchers teams want to face live in the bullpen. Given the dominance the last few years, this statement is not easy to say.

The bullpen this year is among the leagues worst and has used many pitchers to figure it out. Oliver Perez, Neil Ramirez and Cody Allen are starting to help stabilize the back-end.

The front office will be looking at all options regarding a deadline move to help strengthen the pen. The relievers could be one piece away from being a solid unit again.

Andrew Miller‘s injury has held the bullpen back the most. Miller returning healthy and effective could go a long way in restoring the entire bullpen.

Next: Jose Ramirez early MVP voting numbers

The Indians are, without any doubt in my mind, World Series contenders. They will need the right moves at the deadline to acquire the missing pieces. That being said, overall they have the core in place to make another deep October run.

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