The Cleveland Indians should be in a much better position than they are right now. This is an Indians team that has become the first in the history of Major League Baseball to ever sport four pitchers with 100 or more strikeouts during the first half of the campaign. This is also an Indians team that boasts the player with the third best batting average in the league in second baseman Jason Kipnis.
Graphic via zimbio
However, despite all of that, Cleveland finds itself with a losing record and a fourth place spot in the competitive AL Central. The Twins are practically even with the Chicago White Sox, meaning that a minor slip could see this Minnesota squad at the very bottom of the division sooner rather than later.
Considering that many experts thought this team could be a contender, that’s not a good place to be.
First Half Strength and Weaknesses
Obviously the pitching has been outstanding. The starting rotation has given the Indians plenty of opportunities to win games, but Cleveland just has not been able to deliver the runs needed to give these pitchers the desirable records that they want. You have a pitching staff that has compiled a whopping 805 strikeouts and you have a losing record? Not good if you’re an Indians fan.
But it’s the other side of the coin where Cleveland’s weakness really shows. The Indians are 21st in the league in runs scored, and even further down than that in terms of the number of hits that this squad has compiled this year.
Because of this, Cleveland has left a lot on the table through one half of the season. While Kipnis has been special when healthy, the Indians just can’t seem to put it all together on the days that they get great outings from their highly-talented pitching staff.
Looking Ahead to the Second Half
For the Indians, the formula for success in the second half of the year is rather simple. If Cleveland wants to start rising up the rankings instead of plummeting to the bottom of the division, it needs to give its pitchers the support they need when they’re on the mound.
The pitching staff should be able to find ways to increase their consistency, and with the strikeout numbers already through the roof, the quality is there.
Thanks to the schedule makers, there may actually be good news for Indians fans at the start of the second half. Cleveland opens up with three home games against in-state rival Cincinnati, and then gets series with the lowly Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Sox after that. All three of these clubs are under .500 on the year, so the Indians can make up ground immediately if they can finally put it all together.
If things are on course by September, then that’s where things could get interesting in this entertaining divisional race. All but two games in the month are against AL Central foes, and the September 25 series that starts in Kansas City could be a whole lot of fun to watch if playoff implications are on the line.
Graphic via www.letsgotribe.com