Thank God or maybe Bud Selig for baseball’s second wild card. It has kept the Indians relevant for the second straight year. With 51 games to play the Tribe is just three games out for the second A.L. wild card spot. If not for that extra chance to make the playoffs Terry Francona’s team would be on the outside looking in from a far, trailing the Tigers by 6.5 games in the A.L. Central and 10.5 games behind the wild card leading Angels.
The Indians won’t miss Justin Masterson or Asdrubal Cabrera the rest of this season. Both of those players were being counted on this year to put up big numbers to help the Indians compete for a division title and both failed miserably. You can look at it as addition by subtraction and the Tribe’s front office picked up a couple of prospects for two players they weren’t going to sign in free agency at the end of the year anyways.
Speaking of disappointments, Nick Swisher is the Mayor of “Disappointmentville”. Making $14 million dollars a season and expected to be a big middle of the order bat, Swisher has failed miserably this year. He’s hitting just .212 with 8 homers and 42 runs batted in. He left yesterday’s game with right wrist soreness after going 0-3 with 3 strike outs. I never wish for a player to get hurt, but this injury will force manager Terry Francona, who has been loyal to a fault this season with Swisher, not to play him and just like with Masterson and Cabrera, it’s addition by subtraction with the way Swisher has under performed this season.
Jason Kipnis also resides these days in “Disappointmentville”. An All-Star last season for the Tribe, Kipnis is struggling mightily at the plate with a paltry .239 average and only 6 home runs and 36 rbi’s. He is another reason why the Indians are looking up at the Tigers and the wild card contenders.
With so many key players failing to meet their expected standards for this season, it’s amazing that the Indians still have a chance at making the post-season for the second consecutive year. Two of the big reasons they’re still in the race are Michael Brantley and Corey Kluber. Brantley’s All-Star first half has carried over into the second half as he continues to lead the team in hitting at .322 and rbi’s with 69, while ranking second in home runs with 20. His clutch hitting and consistent play is a big reason the Tribe is only three games out for the second wild card spot. Masterson was expected to be the team’s ace this year, but Kluber has taken over that role posting a n 11-6 record with a 2.61 era.
Other players that have helped keep the Indians in the playoff hunt are closer Cody Allen who has racked up 14 saves, 9 holds and an impressive 1.89 era. Lonnie Chisenhall has stepped his game up this year as he continues to hit for average at .306 while providing some power with 10 homers and 43 rbi’s. David Murphy has also been a pleasant surprise. The free agent outfielder has come up with some clutch hits for the team this year and with Swisher potentially out for a little while, maybe he’ll get a chance to add to his .261 average and his 7 home run and 53 rbi total.
With 51 games to go the Indians are (56-55) and in third place in the Central Division. Is Detroit’s 6.5 game lead insurmountable? No, but the Indians are going to have to go on a hot streak like they did last year to catch the Tigers and with this roster I just don’t see that happening. So if you’re a Tribe fan, realistically you should probably focus on the second wild card spot if you want to see the Indians in the post-season again this year. And while that’s not a whole bunch to grab a hold of, it’s still something, whereas in years past this Indians season would be over already. Thanks Bud for that second wild card spot!