Tough to Buy Into Cleveland Indians' Wild Card Hopes

By Casey Drottar
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve had more than few things to say about the Cleveland Indians throughout their 2015 season. The words “underwhelming,” “disappointing” and “letdown” have been tossed around in more than a few of my articles about a team some thought would be a legit contender this year. It’s the kind of thing that happens when a team given that kind of preseason prediction spends almost all of the following months below .500.

However, lo and behold, the Indians technically aren’t out of it just yet. With a little over a month remaining in the season, the Tribe is just five games back of the final AL wild card spot. Astounding, really, since the team is still six games below .500. Be that as it may, thanks to an underwhelming American League, Cleveland is still somehow playing remotely meaningful baseball.

That said, is this reason for fans to get excited? Should the next few weeks be spent anxiously keeping an eye on the standings under the belief the Indians could slowly but surely climb closer to a playoff spot?

I wouldn’t hold your breath. I don’t want to sound like I’m raining on a parade here, but it’s just tough to believe the Tribe being within grasp of a postseason berth is anything more than fool’s gold.

Has the team been playing better baseball as of late? Sure. The removal of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn seems to have brought a little more life to a club which seemed to be going through the motions for most of the year. They’ve won six of their last ten, and seem to be providing more than the usual run support for their starting pitchers (except Corey Kluber, because of course).

Despite all of this, I’m still not buying the idea Cleveland can surge through September en route to the playoffs.

The team still can’t seem to find any sense of consistency. Every time the Indians string together a handful of wins and hint they’re finally turning the corner, it’s followed up with a slump, during which the concept of scoring runs is as difficult as molecular physics. The fact is, the Tribe is easily one of the most consistently inconsistent teams in the majors, and they haven’t indicated a change is coming anytime soon.

Additionally, take a look at their upcoming schedule and tell me they have a chance to rally in the final month.

They start a series tonight with the Los Angeles Angels, a team which isn’t surging as much as they were earlier in the year, but is still better than Cleveland. The Tribe follows this up with a three-game set against baseball’s hottest team; the Toronto Blue Jays. And then, seven of their next ten games are against the Detroit Tigers.

Honestly, I’m more concerned about those games than anything else.

It sounds stupid, especially since Cleveland is actually higher in the standings than the Tigers for the first time in what seems like forever. At the same time, Detroit seemingly always knows how to rough up the Indians. It’s to the point where, if the Tigers came into a series against Cleveland on a 70-game losing streak, I’d still put money on them completing a sweep.

Once the team finishes with Detroit, they host a four-game series with the AL-best Kansas City Royals. So, as you can see, the upcoming schedule doesn’t do the Indians any favors. This is a big reason why I just can’t imagine Cleveland being this close to a playoff berth after the next couple weeks.

Is it great to see the Tribe still theoretically alive this late in an uninspiring season? I guess so. That said, I’d advise everyone to hold off on getting too excited about playoff baseball potentially returning to Cleveland.

If the Indians can make it through their upcoming gauntlet and still be just a couple games back of a wild card spot, sure, I’ll buy into the idea they can pull off a miracle. Until then, I’ll stick with my current thought process regarding this team: just playing out the string and getting us closer and closer to the Cleveland Cavaliers tipping off.

Casey Drottar is the Cleveland Beat Writer for Follow him on Twitter or “Like” him on Facebook

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