Analyzing the Cleveland Indians’ Historic Win Streak and its Impact on the 2017 MLB Postseason
The Indians are peaking at the right time and the rest of MLB should be on notice heading into the 2017 postseason .
For much of this baseball season, the Cleveland Indians looked like a middling team suffering from a World Series let down. However, pundits and realistic fans knew it would only be a matter of time before the Indians flipped the switch.
The Indians set an American League record by winning their 21st consecutive game after Wednesday afternoon’s 5–3 win over the Detroit Tigers. It’s safe to say switch has been flipped.
Perhaps the most impressive statistic in Cleveland’s historic run is that a starter has earned the win in 19 of their 21 victories, illustrating how dominant the starting rotation has been.
If that stat isn’t impressive enough for you, the Indians have a +104 run differential during the win streak. Furthermore, the Indians have only trailed at the end of four total innings the entire streak and have hit more home runs (41) than they have allowed runs (35).
Take a moment to let that sink in. The Indians are catching fire at precisely the best time to do so, just before the postseason. Ask the Dodgers, who own the season’s longest losing skid, if they would prefer to trade places with the surging Indians.
It’s a scary proposition for American League playoff contenders and the entire majors to think about how dominant the Indians have been. They have gone on this historic run without core players, including reliever Andrew Miller, left fielder Michael Brantley and second baseman Jason Kipnis, all of whom are injured. The Indians navigated to the World Series last season with several key injuries as well, so they are primed for a deep postseason run regardless of who is and is not healthy. However, Kipnis, Brantley and Miller are all expected back for the postseason.
The Tribe have relied heavily on All-Star Jose Ramirez, who has an impressive .927 on-base plus slugging percentage and leads the American League with 79 extra-base hits. The lineup is solidified by the addition of outfielder Jay Bruce, who was acquired in a trade with the Mets last month, and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion. There is plenty of depth, versatility and power across the lineup, which is another reason teams should fear the streaking Indians.
Cleveland has also had its fair share of success of some of the AL’s top pitchers. The Indians have bruised Chris Sale, the ace of the pennant-contending Boston Red Sox, for 13 earned runs in eight innings, and a .385 average, this season. Sale is a top AL Cy Young contender this season, showing how the Indians have had their way against him.
However, their current win streak has catapulted them past the Houston Astros for the top spot in the AL standings, meaning they would play the winner of the Wild Card game in the ALDS should the standings remain as currently constructed. This would pit the Indians against the New York Yankees, which may be a bad matchup for the Indians considering how poorly they have fared against Sonny Gray (.207) in his career and Luis Severino (.133) this season.
But no mistake about it, the Indians are locked and loaded for the postseason. They have emerged as the team to beat in the American League and the majors. Perhaps last season’s World Series collapse will serve as greater motivation to propel them to end their own championship drought.