The Indians placed themselves in a very difficult position by losing a series to Oakland, a team they are directly trailing in the Wild Card chase. Based on my winning percent, the Indians are expected to win about 20 of their final 38 games while the Tigers should go 23 and 15. With this expected outcome the Indians will finish the season exactly ten games back in the AL Central (although still likely ahead of the Royals as both the Indians and Tigers are expected to win series against Kansas City).
My original calculations that saw the Indians possibly winning the division included a sweep of Los Angeles (the Indians lost the series 1-2) and a series win against Oakland. With those possibilities now destroyed, a new set of dreamy miracles needs to be created for the optimist inside each and every one of us.
It may be a long shot, but here is all the Indians need to happen to win the American League Central:
- The Indians need to win literally every single series for the rest of the season. This includes the three four game series as well as the three consecutive series against the Braves, Tigers and Orioles.
- Cleveland will also have to sweep the White Sox in a two game series at the end of the season. Of course, if the Indians sweep any of the other series previous to this point, it would give them some room for error.
- The Tigers are expected to go 9-1-2 in series for the rest of the series. The Indians essentially need them to go 7-4-1 instead for the Indians games to matter at all. This is as poorly as the Tigers can be expected to play and it would include unexpected losses to the Athletics, Royals on the road and the Indians at home. Just as with the Indians, if the Tigers were to get swept (or lose a series they are supposed to win), it would go a long way into helping the Indians reach the playoffs.
- The most important series remains the Indians/Tigers series in Detroit from August 30th-September 1st. A series loss here would be enough to eliminate the Indians from contention, while an Indians sweep would put them right back into it. Of course, if they play poorly in the previous series, this one may not matter all.
Expect the next one of these to be about the Wild Card.