Photo Credit: Inquisitr
The Cleveland Indians rewrote the American League record for winning streak during the last couple of weeks to practically secure the No. 1 seed. During their 22-game win streak, the Indians were absolutely dominant and showed off why they’re still considered favorites for a repeat as league champions.
Their streak ended with a 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals as they were unable to complete the comeback for the second straight night. Cleveland’s streak was predicated off of great pitching that kept batters off kilter with their nasty off speed pitches. As a result of their pitching staff’s performance, the Indians were never out of a game during the streak — and rarely trailed during it — and that is how they were able to keep it going for 22-games.
Any team that runs into Cleveland during the playoffs is going to run into trouble, no matter how talented or deep the pitching staff is.
West: Houston Astros – The addition of Justin Verlander has stabilized an often injured starting staff that was the team’s major question mark heading into the postseason. Despite the issues with its pitching staff, Houston locked up the West on September 17th with a 7-1 win over the Seattle Mariners.
Central: Cleveland Indians – Despite the end of their 22-game winning streak, the Indians were able to wrap up the Central on September 16th with an 8-4 win of the Cleveland Indians.
East: Boston Red Sox – Boston’s relative stability with its starting staff has given the Sox an advantage over the team that’s pursuing them in the East. With a powerful offense and deep pitching staff, the Red Sox are going to clinch the East in the last few weeks of the season.
Wildcard No. 1: New York Yankees – New York is practically guaranteed a playoff spot at this point, since they probably aren’t going to win the East….they’ll end up as the first Wildcard team.
Wildcard No. 2: Minnesota Twins – Minnesota has clawed its way back into the playoff picture after a rough start to the second half of the season. The Twins pitching staff and defense means they’ll be able to hold on to the last AL playoff spot.
New York has a deeper starting staff, which is good for a playoff series…but isn’t very good for a one game playoff; and that’s going to be a major weakness for the Yankees as they line-up against the Minnesota Twins. Minnesota has more talented starters in the No. 1 and 2 spots, which is going to provide them the game winning advantage in the American League Wildcard game on October 3rd.
Minnesota Twins vs. Cleveland Indians: Cleveland is the better team, by far, in this match-up; the Indians have a deeper bullpen and starting staff, which was specifically built to benefit the team in a playoff run. The Twins defense will be able to suppress Cleveland’s offensive production during the series…but it’s hard to see Minnesota’s offense being able to consistently beat-up on the Tribe’s pitchers.
Cleveland will win the series in four games.
Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros: Verlander makes the Astros pitching staff the deepest in the postseason and provides them a huge advantage in a five game series; but Boston has the better offensive attack. Neither team has a particularly better defense, so it’s really going to come down to bullpen management and offensive production…which provide an advantage to the Red Sox.
Boston wins the series in five games.
Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians: The Indians are by far the better of the two teams, but Boston’s bullpen is a little bit deeper; and Terry Francona is far better at managing his bullpen than John Ferrall is. Which means that the Sox bullpen advantage is washed out by Cleveland’s managerial advantage. This series is going to come down to a whom is better able to string together hits and score runs in bunches…and that’s an advantage to Cleveland.
Cleveland wins the American League championship in six games.
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