It’s a potential playoff preview Thursday night when the Yankees visit Cleveland to start a four-game series. Both teams are already virtual locks to reach the postseason. The Yankees can coast into the mid-90s in season wins just by playing .500 ball the rest of the way. The Indians are in a division so bad nobody else may even reach .500.
But some questions remain about Cleveland’s true quality. Is this a mediocre team earning a playoff bid by default? Past seasons wouldn’t suggest that. The Indians went 102-60 last season after going 94-67 in 2016. This year’s version has not yet measured up to other AL playoff contenders. Look at Cleveland’s 2018 win-loss records versus the other likely AL playoff teams:
Indians vs. AL elite in 2018vs. Yankees: 0-3vs. Astros: 3-4vs. Red Sox: 0-0vs. Mariners: 2-5
That’s an awful 5-12 record, suggesting the Indians clearly don’t belong in the league’s top shelf just yet. And if Oakland chases down Seattle for the second wild-card spot? The Indians are 2-4 against the Athletics.
Cleveland looks fine in the daily standings thanks to a 28-13 record in the horrible AL Central. Schedule strength is clearly an issue when evaluating the Tribe for betting purposes. Baseball-Reference.com shows the Indians have played just 37 games this season versus teams at .500 or better (15-22), which is the fewest for any AL team. It was quite a schedule quirk to have gone through the first 91 games facing the Yankees just three times and the Red Sox not at all.
As you watch this four-game challenge, see if you can find the trouble spots that could plague the Indians against top competition through October. Betting markets have been slow to acknowledge Cleveland’s demise in quality, partly because it has been hidden by a very soft schedule.
Credit: Source link