On Saturday, the Indians secured their third consecutive AL Central Division Championship while also securing another playoff spot. The Indians have been inconsistent for most of the season. The team is drawing comparisons to the ’97 Indians team that did not have such a dominating season but reached the playoffs offs, ended the defending champion Yankees in the ALDS, then beat the Orioles in the ALCS and fell short to the Marlins in the World Series. Looking at the scenario right now in 2018, lighting might strike again.
In a matchup that most people thought was supposed to happen in 2017, we will get in 2018. The Indians are on a collision course against defending World Series Champion, Houston Astros. Last year, the Indians and Astros both finished winning over 100 games a piece with the Indians edging out the Astros for the best record in the AL by one game. We all know what happened afterward. Cleveland collapsed for the second-straight postseason as the Yankees knocked the Tribe out and would go on to get eliminated by the Astros. The Indians handled the Astros last year 5-1; this year, the Astros took the series 4-3.
The Tribe added some punch within the last several weeks by adding former AL MVP and Toronto Blue Jays 3B Josh Donaldson. If everybody stays healthy down the stretch, the Indians lineup will feature Lindor, Ramirez, Brantley, Edwin, Yonder, Donaldson and Kipnis. All seven hitters are current and former MLB All-Stars. Hitting really hasn’t been much of an issue, the pitching staff has been. The biggest question the Indians may face come October is who will be the 3rd starter after Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. Many fans are hoping that Trevor Bauer will be that 3rd starter. Bauer has been on the DL for a couple of months now. Shane Bieber or Mike Clevinger are also reliable options for that 3rd spot.
If the Indians look to knock off the defending champs the bullpen will have to pick it up from what they have been for most of the year and that’s mediocre. My biggest fear for this team is hitting. The Indians stopped hitting last year against the Yankees and they blew a 2-0 lead. They’re going to have to hit against the Astros. Either way, it should be a fantastic series.