Despite a lackluster year from their offense, the Cleveland Indians remain in the thick of the AL postseason race with less than two weeks of regular season play remaining.
The 2020 MLB season has reached the final two weeks of the season, which means the playoffs will soon be upon us. The Cleveland Indians head into their last 13 games sitting in third place in the AL Central. With a record of 26-21, Cleveland sits 4.5 games behind the division-leading White Sox and 3.5 games back of the Twins.
Cleveland enters this stretch riding a six-game losing streak, their longest since 2015. With an offense nowhere to be found, Cleveland has watched their division lead turn into a deficit.
The good news for Cleveland is the new playoff format for the 2020 season expands to include 16 teams. As it stands now, Cleveland will make the playoffs as the final wildcard team getting the 8-seed.
Cleveland holds a 4.5 game advantage over the Seattle Mariners for the American League’s final playoff spot.
Cleveland has been willed this far in the season by lights-out pitching from both the starters and the pen. While the last week has seen higher opponent run totals, the pitching staff still holds the second-best ERA in baseball.
Here’s what the Indians’ schedule looks like for the final 13 games:
@ Cubs Sept. 15-16
@ Tigers Sept. 17-20
vs. White Sox Sept. 21-24
vs. Pirates Sept. 25-27
Cleveland is 11-6 against these four teams this season. While a similar winning percentage doesn’t mathematically clinch it for the team, if Cleveland can replicate this success, they will find themselves playing in the postseason.
Of the top three teams in the AL Central, the White Sox have the hardest schedule to close out the year (opponent win % of .556), the Twins sit in the middle (.529), and Cleveland has the most manageable schedule of the three (.500).
In the Wildcard race, the Mariner’s have the most challenging schedule in the bunch (.564) while the Orioles sit middle of the pack (.537). The Yankees (26-21) and Blue Jays (26-20) have similar records to Cleveland. The AL East will have a division battle similar to the AL Central, with each division likely to produce three playoff teams.
While Cleveland searches for ways to score runs and win ballgames, they still hold a realistic shot of making the playoffs.
Once they make the playoffs, it’s a whole new story. There will be no hiding the offensive woes and bats will need to show up big time to avoid making a quick postseason exit.