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Cleveland Indians Clinch AL Central
- Updated: September 28, 2016
Cleveland Indians clinch AL Central despite a visit from the injury bug
With a 7-4 win over the Detroit Tigers on Monday, the Cleveland Indians clinched their first AL Central title since 2007.
At 91-66, the Indians have used a power lineup to bust through the competition this season. With names like Mike Napoli, Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor, it is no wonder why the Indians offense ranks so high. They are 4th in runs scored, 5th in team batting average and 8th in slugging percentage.
Where the Indians have really made their living this season is on the mound. With a combination of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, the Indians rotation has been one of the best in baseball. Kluber leads the team with a 3.14 ERA, 18 wins and 227 strikeouts while Carrasco and Salazar have ERA’s of 3.32 and 3.87 respectively.
With this three-headed monster front lining the Indians rotation, Cleveland looks like a lock to make it deep into the playoffs. There is only one problem; all three of these pitchers are currently battling injuries. Carrasco will miss the remainder of the season with a broken hand while Kluber suffered a groin injury during the Indians division clinching win on Monday. Danny Salazar is trying to work through a forearm injury. He threw a bullpen on Monday and could be available for the postseason. While it seems Salazar may be available, Kluber’s injury could keep him out as much as 7-10 days. With the playoffs looming, injuries can derail a pitcher and cause them not to be 100% healthy for the playoffs.
Even if the Indians get Kluber and Carrasco back in time for the playoffs, they are still without Salazar. In his absence, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin will need to step up. Bauer has a 4.26 ERA in 27 starts this season while Tomlin has made 28 starts and recorded a 4.48 ERA. These two will not fully replace the talent of Salazar but they will provide the Indians with some solid innings in the playoffs.
The Indians high powered offense can put up runs in a hurry which will take some pressure off the banged up rotation.
At the trade deadline, the Indians acquired left-handed relief pitcher Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees. Paired with Dan Otero and Cody Allen, the Indians have one of the best bullpens in baseball. Miller’s versatility in the latter parts of games will prove valuable in the playoffs.
Even with the injuries to the three best starters for the Indians, they are still poised to make a deep playoff run. Behind a good bullpen and electric offense, the Indians can pick up the slack and continue their fantastic season.