5 Biggest Issues Facing Cleveland Indians in 2014 Stretch Run

5 Biggest Issues Facing Cleveland Indians in 2014 Stretch Run

Terry Francona Celebrates Victory
Matthew Emmons- USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Indians find themselves in contention for the second consecutive year under the tutelage of Terry Francona. The team also appears to be getting hot at the right time, having won seven of their last nine overall. However, they sit 5.5 games behind the red-hot Kansas City Royals in the AL Central and 4.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers in the division, and that deficit is far from the only issue facing the Tribe down the stretch.

5. Tough Schedule

Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers
Peter Alken- USA TODAY Sports

5. Tough Schedule

Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers
Peter Alken- USA TODAY Sports

The Tribe will face off against the Kansas City Royals six more times and the Detroit Tigers seven more times before the end of the season. Cleveland will need to play well against both to make up significant ground in both the AL Central and the Wild Card, but KC and Detroit will not make it easy on them.

4. Youth and Inexperience

Zach Walters Celebrates Homer
Ken Blaze- USA TODAY Sports

4. Youth and Inexperience

Zach Walters Celebrates Homer
Ken Blaze- USA TODAY Sports

Both the starting lineup and rotation for the Tribe includes youth compared to last year’s postseason roster. The likes of Tyler Holt, Zach Walters, TJ House, Carlos Carrasco, Jose Ramirez and Roberto Perez will receive significant playing time down the stretch. The pressure of a September run may get to the Indians’ young guns.

3. Injury Bug

David Murphy Injured
John Rieger- USA TODAY Sports

3. Injury Bug

David Murphy Injured
John Rieger- USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland has been hit hard by injuries this year. Nick Swisher is out for the season after knee surgeries. David Murphy remains on the DL with an abdominal strain. Jason Kipnis has been hampered by a bad oblique all season. Michael Bourn is just coming back from a hamstring injury. With production lacking from the veterans mentioned, the postseason may be out of reach.

2. Lack of a Middle-of-the-Order Power Bat

Nick Swisher Hit
Brad Rempel- USA TODAY Sports

2. Lack of a Middle-of-the-Order Power Bat

Nick Swisher Hit
Brad Rempel- USA TODAY Sports

With Nick Swisher out for the remainder of the season, Jason Kipnis struggling and Lonnie Chisenhall cooling off, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley represent most of the Tribe’s power for the remainder of the year. The Indians could surely use Swisher, who tore it up down the stretch last year. However, they will have to make do without significant power in the middle.

1. Horrendous Defense

Lonnie Chisenhall Error
John Rieger- USA TODAY Sports

1. Horrendous Defense

Lonnie Chisenhall Error
John Rieger- USA TODAY Sports

The most significant of the issues facing the Tribe is bad defense. The Indians lead all of baseball in both errors and unearned runs, and they show no signs of slowing down. Shaky defense for a team without substantial power and experience could mean losing close games that they will need down the stretch. If Cleveland is unable to play consistent defense, they may be watching from home come October.

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