Jose Ramirez’s walk-off three-run homer Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox clinched the Indians fifth playoff berth in the last seven years. In a season that has at best been inconsistent and at times just downright bad, it’s a bit surprising that the Indians will at least play one extra series this year. Indians fans should rejoice and after going on an eight-game losing streak, it’s okay to question the Indians’ ability to make a run. Nonetheless, the postseason is a different animal and should bring renewed optimism. One reason for said optimism is the Indians could get a good draw when it comes to seeding.
As of today, the first-round playoff matchups would be as follows per espn.com:
- Tampa Bay V. 8. Toronto
- Chicago V. 7. Cleveland
- Oakland V. 6. Houston
- Minnesota V. 5. New York
Currently, the Indians have five games left and are only three games back of the White Sox for first place and the Twins only a half-game back of the White Sox. Between now and Sunday night there will most likely be a lot of movement in the playoff standings. The playoff seeding this year is not just based on the record, but the top two teams in each division get automatic playoff berths and the top six seeds, the final two seeds are the two teams with the best records outside of that. That is why the Astros at 28-27 on the year are the sixth seed over the Indians who are 31-24 (espn.com).
The playoffs will be interesting this year because of the regional schedules each team played. The Indians only played AL Central and NL Central opponents this year which makes it difficult to know how they would match up with teams from the AL East and West. The assumption would be outside of Houston and Toronto the Indians don’t match up well with many of the other teams. Tampa Bay and Oakland both have the pitching to match up with Indians’ arms and New York, even with the injuries, has always given the Indians problems. There are two other AL Central teams that could possibly match up with the Tribe.
The Twins would be a nightmare pairing for the Indians. The Tribe will finish the year three and seven against Minnesota and that echoes the last couple of years. Minnesota has been the one team to do some damage against even the likes of Shane Bieber this year and their offense is prolific. The pitching is where Minnesota has improved most and with the inconsistency of the Indians lineup, it’s hard to imagine them besting the Twins in a three-game set in Minnesota.
The current matchups would work in the Indians’ favor as they would face off against the White Sox. After Tuesday night’s win, the Indians on the year are six and two against Chicago with two more to play. The Indians bats have at least averaged just a shade over four runs per game against Chicago and the Indians pitching has limited the White Sox powerful offense to just three runs a game. The Indians are also two and one in Chicago and Cleveland has overall played a tad better on the road compared to at home. This would be the dream matchup for the Indians and a nightmare for Chicago considering their stellar season could come to an end in the first round.
The last five days of the regular season will likely see movement in the standings as teams jockey for position. The Indians also still have a shot, no matter how unlikely, to win the AL Central Division crown which would greatly shake up the playoff bracket. Its anyone’s guess how the bracket will shake out, but for the Indians, the White Sox are their best bet to get through to the divisional round. Once teams get to the divisional round – all bets are off.