FanPost

Welcome to September Baseball!

Well it is officially September and the Tribe is playing meaningful baseball. As a fairly young Tribe fan (I will be 21 in October), I'm not really used to this, so it is exciting for me. Hell, it's exciting for all Tribe fans regardless of age. But exactly where does the Tribe sit right now in terms of playoff potential? Not as bad as everyone feared.

As of now, the AL Wild Card race looks like this:

WC Standings W-L Next Opponent
Oakland 78-58 (+2.5) 3 vs. TEX
Tampa Bay 75-60 (0) 4 @ LAA
Baltimore 72-63 (-3.0) 3 @ CLE
Cleveland 72-64 (-3.5) 3 vs. BAL
New York 72-64 (-3.5) 3 vs. CWS

Not quite dead yet, especially considering how our schedule looks after our series with Baltimore. However, the series in Baltimore is probably the most important series to date. It would have been nice to win a bit more on this latest road trip, but it did not kill our playoff chances by any means. In fact, if the planets align and the baseball gods shine on Cleveland over the next three days (wishful thinking), we could be in a WC spot by the end of the series. Here are some scenarios for the 5 teams above:

Best Case Scenario

Team Series Outcome Record
Oakland 0-3 to TEX 78-61 (+3.0)
Tampa Bay 0-4 to LAA 75-64 (0)
Baltimore 0-3 to CLE 72-66 (-2.5)
Cleveland 3-0 against BAL 75-64 (0)
New York 0-3 to CWS 72-67 (-3.0)

Good Scenario

Team Series Outcome Record
Oakland 1-2 to TEX 79-60 (+3.0)
Tampa Bay 1-3 to LAA 76-63 (0)
Baltimore 1-2 to CLE 73-65 (-2.5)
Cleveland 2-1 against BAL 74-65 (-2.0)
New York 1-2 to CWS 73-66 (-3.0)

Bad Scenario

Team Series Outcome Record
Oakland 2-1 to TEX 80-59 (+3.0)
Tampa Bay 2-2 to LAA 77-62 (0)
Baltimore 2-1 to CLE 74-64 (-2.5)
Cleveland 1-2 against BAL 73-66 (-4.0)
New York 2-1 to CWS 74-65 (-3.0)

Worst Case Scenario

Team Series Outcome Record
Oakland 3-0 to TEX 81-58 (+2.0)
Tampa Bay 4-0 to LAA 79-60 (0)
Baltimore 3-0 CLE 75-63 (-3.5)
Cleveland 0-3 to BAL 72-67 (-7.0)
New York 3-0 CWS 75-64 (-4.0)

Obviously, we want to get as close to the "Best Case Scenario" as possible. If Tampa sweeps the Halos and Baltimore sweeps us, it will probably be time to pack it in and look towards 2014. However, the likelihood of either of these scenarios happening is very, very slim. Realistically speaking, my guess for the end of each of these upcoming series is:

Realistic Scenario

Team Series Outcome Record
Oakland 1-2 to TEX 79-60 (+2.0)
Tampa Bay 2-2 to LAA 77-62 (0)
Baltimore 1-2 to CLE 73-65 (-3.5)
Cleveland 2-1 to BAL 74-65 (-3.0)
New York 3-0 to CWS 75-64 (-2.0)

Going into our remaining schedule, 3 back of a WC looks pretty good. Looking at the remainder of the season after these upcoming series', here's what each schedule looks like for the WC contenders (bolded games are key series that should help the Tribe):

Oakland: 4 vs. HOU, 3 @ MIN, 3 @ TEX, 3 vs. LAA, 4 vs. MIN, 3 @ LAA, 3 @ SEA

Tampa Bay: 3 @ SEA, 3 vs. BOS, 3 @ MIN, 4 vs. TEX, 4 vs. BAL, 3 @ NYY, 3 @ TOR

Baltimore: 4 vs. CWS, 4 vs. NYY, 3 @ TOR, 3 @ BOS, 4 @ TB, 3 vs. TOR, 3 vs. BOS

Cleveland: 3 vs. NYM, 3 vs. KC, 4 @ CWS, 3 @ KC, 4 vs. HOU, 2 vs. CWS, 4 @ MIN

New York: 4 vs BOS, 4 @ BAL, 3 @ BOS, 3 @ TOR, 3 vs. SF, 3 vs. TB, 3 @ HOU

Just by glancing at the schedule, it looks like Boston and Texas should be giving us some help in the final month of the season. Also, it's great that so many of the WC contenders are going to facing each other. The only one who is close to the WC race that we face is KC, but they're shot at the playoffs is even slimmer than ours. Tampa, for instance, goes through a nasty 11 game stretch against Texas, Baltimore, and the Yankees, whereas the Yankees play 11 against Baltimore and Boston. Oakland has the 2nd easiest schedule, behind us, so don't expect to overtake them for the first WC spot. And Baltimore has a tough ride ahead of them as well, it's just a bit more spread out.

I have a good feeling that this WC race is gonna come down to the wire. The external pieces are all lined up for the Tribe to take the second WC spot. The only thing that is standing in their way right now is internal slumping. If we can play good baseball the rest of the way, the WC is still very much within reach. Hopefully, at the end of Tampa's series with the Angels, we are looking at a race that is as close to (if not better than) the realistic scenario I typed out above. Hang in there, Tribe fans. This season is far, far from over!

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