FanPost

27 Games Later: 2014 Set 1 Edition

Greetings, Fellow Tribe Fans. Now that Opening Day is finally here, I wanted to post some more 27 Game snapshots for the Tribe this year. Last year, I sporadically made some FanPosts keeping tab of what the Tribe needed to do to win 90 games as I guessed that would be the best chance to make the playoffs. They had kept pretty even for the most part until a 10 game winning streak to end the season.

This year, I wanted to keep track of two paces: 90 wins and 96 wins. I figured 90 wins will be almost a sure thing for the playoffs and 96 should be the same chance to win the Central. It's quite possible the Tribe does neither or both of these things, but it gives us fans a good idea of what the Tribe needs to do to stay in the race during the long (but not long enough it feels in the winter) 162-game season.

The first set gives six 3-game series with the A's, Twins, Padres, Tigers, Blue Jays, Giants, two 4-game series with the White Sox and Royals, and the first game of a three-game series with the Angels. A big criticism of the Tribe this year (other than starting pitching) is that while they beat up on bad teams last year, they had a bad record against playoff teams. While this data was mostly skewed by the season series with Detroit, it does bear some relevance here. In order to win 90 games, the average record in a 27-game set is 15-12 - which is roughly winning two games in every three game series and splitting any even numbered series, and one series with zero wins. For a 96-win season, a team should average a 16-11 record. This is definitely a bit tougher, as two series losses puts a team in the hole. Still, if a team were to split the difference and go 15-12 in half the sets and 16-11 in the other half, 93 wins is a successful year.

This still isn't very practical as sweeps exist and you just aren't going to win two games against every team - you should expect better teams to be tougher. That being said, I will take into account the opponents this time around and build in some more realistic expectations to give a clearer window of where the Tribe is headed. Another issue is that when a series is split like the Angles this first time, the Tribe could lose the first game, but in a new set win two more to be right on pace. I'll try to account for that as well.

Overall on the season, Set 3 looks to be the toughest (May 28 - June 28) with 7 games with the Red Sox, 4 with the Rangers, 4 with the Angels, 3 with the Tigers, and 2 with the Royals. It also has 1 with the White Sox, 2 with the Diamond Backs, and 1 with the Mariners - which could present some tough pitchers to face. While I put zero stock in last year's theme of "an easy September schedule gave the Tribe a road to the playoffs" garbage (I actually read someone from Fox Sports who said the Tribe wouldn't make it because this September wasn't as easy as last year), this September does provide some important series with playoff implications: 7 games with the Tigers, 4 with the Royals, and a season finale 3-gamer with the Rays. Set 5 (July 31-August 30) looks to be the easiest with only 7 games against playoff teams from last year, but it's the Rangers and Reds - two teams with glaring weaknesses this year. It rounds out with Twins, Astros, White Sox, Diamondbacks, and Yankees.

For Set 1, I'm thinking the Tribe can lose a series (but not get swept) by the A's and Tigers and split with the Royals and White Sox, winning two of three every where else and grabbing the first game against the Angels. The Giants are going to be the Wild Card, as they missed the postseason last year, but look very improved. To get to 96 win pace, they'll have to pick up a game against the A's or Tigers, win one of the 4-game series, or get a sweep. Here's the breakdown in table form. Throughout the season, I'll update the table after every series with the wins and pace:

90 Win Pace
Opponent Total Games Wins Needed Actual Wins Pace
A's 3 1 2 +1
Twins 3 2 1 -
Padres 3 2 2 -
White Sox 4 2 1 -1
Tigers 2 1 1 -1
Blue Jays 3 2 1 -2
Royals 4 2 3 -1
Giants 3 2 0 -3
Angels 2 1 0 -4
96 Win Pace
Opponent Total Games Wins Needed Actual Wins Pace
A's 3 2 2 -
Twins 3 2 1 -1
Padres 3 2 2 -1
White Sox 4 2 1 -2
Tigers 2 1 1 -2
Blue Jays 3 2 1 -3
Royals 4 2 3 -2
Giants 3 2 0 -4
Angels 2 1 0 -5

It's definitely doable to be at 16 wins on April 29. At that point, we'll have seen roughly 5 starts per pitcher, played against the two biggest threats to the division title, and dipped into two potential playoff teams outside the division.

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