It has been a very challenging season for the 2019 Cleveland Indians. If you’ve paid attention to any of it this year, you know that we’ve seen it all. The Tribe has gone through losing streaks, injuries a plenty, blow-outs, large division deficits and heartbreaking late-game losses.
Yet, they have also seen winning streaks and young prospects rise to the occasion. They hosted the All-Star Game, and their young hot pitcher Shane Bieber won All-Star Game MVP. They’ve witnessed the resurgence of Carlos Santana, walk-offs, and a comeback in the division to at once take first place.
Through all of that, the Indians find themselves in a very interesting position they haven’t touched in a long time. As a matter of fact, they haven’t been in this position since 2013. They’re in two battles in the final month of September to try and clinch a spot in the Postseason for the fourth consecutive season. The realistic possibility for the Tribe is to clinch a Wild Card Game spot, as they’re in a battle with Tampa Bay and Oakland for the two spots. Two of these three teams will live for a winner-take-all game. The other will have their season come to an end.
The second battle, and less realistic possibility to make the playoffs, is their division battle with Minnesota. As this is written (Sept. 2), the Indians find themselves six games back of first place. This is after they clawed their way back from an 11.5 game deficit to sit atop the division on August 12, when they walked off against the Red Sox. But since then, they have been swept by the Mets and the Rays, split a series with the Yankees, and lost a series to Boston.
However, they still have a shot at the division. It’s going to be hard now that third baseman Jose Ramirez is out for the rest of the regular season, left fielder Tyler Naquin is injured and the bullpen has declined in productivity. But Cleveland does face Minnesota six more times—three games up north and three games in the 216. Winning at least four of those games is critical for the Tribe to have a shot at surpassing the Twins.
If you want to stay optimistic, know that the Indians do have bright spots in the lineup including Francisco Lindor, Franmil Reyes, Yasiel Puig and Carlos Santana. And probably the most heartwarming story in all of baseball this year occurred in Cleveland when pitcher Carlos Carrasco returned to the team this past weekend. He was sidelined for nearly three months with chronic myeloid leukemia, a life-threatening form of cancer. Rallying around him, the team can only stay positive through challenging times.
Cleveland hasn’t been in this spot since 2013. That year, they won 21 of the last 27 games, including a 10-game winning streak to end the season and clinch the number one Wild Card spot. Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana are the only remaining members of the roster from that magical season. Do they have one final ounce of gas to make a run at the postseason? Or will their luck run out and force them to miss October for the first time in four years? It should be a fun month of September in Cleveland to watch both the Indians and Browns make national headlines for, knock-on-wood, positive reasons.