Indians in swinging distance of playoff berth

Daniel Hoffman, Contributing Reporter

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Indians find themselves just half a game out of a playoff spot. Even though they have already exceeded all expectations for this season, they are far from satisfied. Currently, they are looking up at the Rays and Rangers in the wild card standings. Lucky for them, those two teams happen to be playing each other this week down in Tampa.

Meanwhile the Indians still have games left on their schedule against the Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, who possess the three worst records in the American League. Compared to the schedules of the other teams contending for a playoff spot, the Indians’ schedule is the most forgiving by a considerable margin.The Indians also get to play the Astros and White Sox at Progressive Field, where they have enjoyed a substantial home field advantage this season.

So far in the month of September, the Indians have managed to beat up on inferior competition, compiling a record of 10-5. Regardless of the competition they have faced over that span, a stretch like that certainly qualifies as a hot streak. With the playoffs in sight, very little currently stands in the Indians’ way. Although they don’t completely control their own destiny, they are currently in a position several other franchises around the major leagues would die for.

That is not to say that everything has been rosy for the Tribe, though. The offense, which was supposed to receive a significant boost from the team’s offseason acquisitions, has endured prolonged stretches of ineptitude this season. In the entire month of August, the Indians scored just 92 runs. Put another way, the team averaged a measly 3.3 runs per game for the 28 games during that span. That is not to say the offense is consistently inept, just that they are not immune to offensive droughts.

The starting rotation, on the other hand, has endured more ups than downs to this point in the season. Although Justin Masterson, who has been their best starting pitcher this season, is currently sidelined with an oblique injury, the rest of the starting rotation has picked up the slack in his absence. Danny Salazar, Scott Kazmir, Ubaldo Jimenez, Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister have all held their own when taking the mound for the Tribe.

Finally, the bullpen is usually solid but is prone to the occasional meltdown. The worst thing that could happen to the Indians is the bullpen going cold at the wrong time. If ever there was a time the Indians absolutely needed a reliable bridge to closer Chris Perez for the ninth inning of close games, this is it.

With two weeks left and a playoff berth well within their grasp, the Indians are certainly giving their fans reasons to be excited.