Going into the series with Detroit, the Indians had a chance to make a move on the Central Division and possibly take over the top spot. After an extremely disappointing (though well played) series, the Indians are further back than ever and will need to make a run if they stand any chance of reaching the playoffs this season. This is what the Indians will need to happen for them to return to the post season as the Central Division Champions for the first time since 2007:
- The Indians are now seven games back from Detroit and need to make this up within the next 47 games. This looks impossible, but we'll delve a little deeper into the remaining schedule to see what should be expected.
- Using current winning percentages, the Indians are expected to go 25-22 through the rest of the year against the opponents they face. The Tigers, facing a slightly easier schedule, can be expected to go 31-18.
- With that, the Indians would finish another five games back from the Tigers, so they need a deviation from the expected of 13 games, instead of seven.
- Taking a slightly positive outlook, assuming the Indians will win their last three four game series and sweep the Twins and Angels at home, the Indians record could be 31-16. Similarly, looking at the Tigers schedule, some bad luck for them could see a turn around against their more difficult opponents (the A's, Red Sox and Yankees), possibly seeing them go 26-23. Assuming these slight changes, the Indians would finish just one game back from the Tigers in the Division chase.
- This still assumes the Indians will lose the final three game series between the two teams. If the Indians take that series and all the extended circumstances listed above take place, the Indians would win the division by a single game.
While all this is unlikely, it shows that the Indians are not out of it. They are even closer to the second Wild Card spot, but that would be a last resort, so their efforts should still be based on winning the Central. The fact is that if they do everything they need to do (win 68% of their games down the stretch) they will probably make the playoffs even if Detroit doesn't fail. Almost every season there is a team that comes from behind to make the playoffs, sometimes past seemingly insurmountable odds. The point being, don't give up hope until it is taken from you.
That three game series in Detroit (8/30-9/1) will be another turning point. An Indians sweep would eliminate most of the distance between the two teams and a Tigers sweep could end the Central Division playoff race once and for all. As the season progresses, Burning River Baseball will keep you updated with the Indians playoff chances and what they will have to do to make it happen.