The Cleveland Indians are in a position to make the postseason this year. One thing for sure is that manager Terry Francona is squeezing every ounce of talent out of most of his roster. Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley and Ubaldo Jimenez are all having spectacular years, among others.
The Indians might have a few question marks, but they play hard and they play together. They will have to fight off the Texas Rangers for the rest of the week to try to make the playoffs, but if they are able to get in, the biggest question mark surrounding this team should be the ninth-inning situation.
With the Rangers playing the Astros tonight, it was important for the Indians to stay ahead at home against the Chicago White Sox, and they had a 3-2 lead going into the ninth inning. But Chris Perez, who was so reliable with 35-plus saves in each of the past two seasons, surrendered two solo home runs and blew his fifth save of the season.
Perez has 25 saves this year, but he is 1-2 with a 5.95 ERA since August 1 while converting 10 out of 12 saves. In this case, he was lucky enough to get bailed out by a Jason Giambi walk-off home run, or the Indians would have lost ground in the race.
One of the most important things a team can have to make a postseason run is a reliable late-inning pitcher, and I fear the Indians cannot confidently say they have that in Perez. With five games remaining, the Indians control their own destiny; but even if they do make it, how confident are they in their closer?