The MLB postseason continues with the National League Wild Card Game Tuesday night (8 p.m. ET on TBS). I've been doing a dossier of every team in the playoffs. Time for the Cleveland Indians, who begin their American League Division Series against the New York Yankees on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1).
Team: Cleveland Indians
Finished the regular season as: 2017 AL Central champs (and they might fit that win streak on there too)
Last postseason appearance: 2017 World Series (lost to Chicago Cubs)
Last World Series appearance: 2017
Last World Series title: 1948
Top 10 players, 2017 season
- Corey Kluber, (18-4, 2.25 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 265 SO, 7.3 fWAR)
- Jose Ramirez, (.318/.374/.583, 29 HR, 83 RBI, 17 SB, 107 runs, 6.6 fWAR)
- Francisco Lindor, (.273/.337/.505, 33 HR, 89 RBI, 15 SB, 99 runs, 5.9 fWAR)
- Carlos Carrasco, (18-6, 3.29 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 226 SO, 5.5 fWAR)
- Trevor Bauer, (17-9, 4.19 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 196 SO, 3.2 fWAR)
- Carlos Santana, (.259/.363/.455, 23 HR, 79 RBI, 90 runs, 3.0 fWAR)
- Edwin Encarnacion, (.258/.377/.504, 38 HR, 107 RBI, 96 runs, 2.5 fWAR)
- Andrew Miller, (4-3, 1.44 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 95 SO, 2.3 fWAR)
- Danny Salazar, (5-6, 4.28 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 145 SO, 2.2 fWAR)
- Mike Clevinger, (12-6, 3.11 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 137 SO, 2.2 fWAR)
Quality of clinching celebration: Virtual. The Indians clinched the division on their day off, so everyone just sort of celebrated online. (They eventually got to party.)
Season recap: Remember when everyone thought the Indians were still reeling from last year's World Series loss? Well, winning 22 in a row will fix that real quick. The Tribe ended up with the second-most wins in their history and are playing great baseball at the exact right time.
Probable playoff lineup:
SS Francisco Lindor
CF Jason Kipnis
2B Jose Ramirez
DH Edwin Encarnacion
RF Jay Bruce
1B Carlos Santana
LF Lonnie Chisenhall
RF Yan Gomez
3B Yandy Diaz
Kipnis in center still looks sort of weird. You also might see some Austin Jackson and Yan Gomes.
Probable playoff rotation
ALDS Game 1: Trevor Bauer
ALDS Game 2: Corey Kluber
ALDS Game 3: Carlos Carrasco
Bauer will be starting Game 1, giving Kluber the chance to start Game 2 as well as Game 5 if necessary.
- Defense. Remember when the Indians had a great lineup, solid pitching but bad defense. It almost feels like Lindor's arrival fixed that by itself, didn't it?
- Rotation. Despite people scratching their heads over Bauer starting Game 1, Terry Francona has plenty of good options, because there aren't many rotations like this one.
- Momentum. There hasn't been a better team in baseball since July, and it's not particularly close. This looks like a team that has unfinished business.
- Kipnis confusion? The Indians haven't been entirely sure what to do with Kipnis since he returned from the disabled list. You might see Cleveland get creative in the outfield.
- Whither Michael Brantley? He made the ALDS roster, but will primarily be a pinch-hitter. What can you possibly expect from him? Will Francona send him to the plate in a key spot?
- Pressure. For all the fun and excitement this team has brought its fans this season, it's still a club that came within one inning of winning the World Series last year, but didn't. That's going to hang over them this whole postseason. The Indians have to get further this year. Which means they have to win it.
Best-case scenario: It's like the 22-game win streak all over again, with everything clicking and all other teams looking like they're playing a different sport all together.
Worst-case scenario: Francona can't quite figure out the outfield rotation, the bullpen springs a leak, the bats go cold, Indians history lurks over everything they do.
Ramifications of a World Series title: It'd be the biggest story in baseball.
Status: This looks like the year. But it looks like it has been the year many times since 1948. Those years weren't the year either.
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