Aug 25, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor (12), left fielder Michael Brantley (center) and second baseman Jose Ramirez (11) celebrate an 11-6 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
When the Cleveland Indians took three out of four from the New York Yankees two weeks ago, they appeared to be a team that could play spoiler to some of the playoff hopefuls in the American League. Fast forward to today and they have now won eight of their last 10 and sit just five games out of a second Wild Card spot that no team seems to want this season.
Their offense has been paced by 2014 MVP candidate Michael Brantley. While his numbers don’t quite put him in that category this season, his .325 average, 40 doubles and 73 RBIs are all team-highs. A strong bounce-back year from Jason Kipnis and recent surges from Lonnie Chisenhall and Francisco Lindor have lead to this Indians offense averaging 5.4 runs per over the last 10 games.
Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar have led the way on the mound but the return of Josh Tomlin has taken the rotation to another level. Since rejoining the team, Tomlin is 3-1 with a 3.08 ERA and opponents have hit just .188 against him. His play has made up for Trevor Bauer who since the All-Star break, can’t seem to figure things out.
Bauer is 2-5 with a 5.44 ERA in his last nine starts. If he can get on track, the Indians rotation becomes the most dangerous in the AL heading down the stretch.
This is all familiar territory for Terry Francona and the Indians. In 2013, they won 15 of their final 17 games to force their way into a one-game playoff with the Tampa Bay Rays (which they ended up losing).
With a hot streak heading into September and one of the best managers in baseball at the helm, I would say they have as good a chance as any team to win that second AL Wild Card.
Here are your power rankings for the week.
Next: AL East battle coming down to the wire