FanPost

27 Games Later: 2014 (Set 2)

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

(promoted to the front page by Jason)

Welp.... Sigh.... Aye yai yai.... Pick whatever form of exasperation you like. April has been a pretty terrible month to be a Tribe fan. It's often said you can't win a division in April, but you sure can lose one - and it feels like the team isn't far from that. Consider that a comfortable amount of wins for a division crown would be 96 games. If you spilt the schedule into six equal set of 27 games, a team needs to average a 16-11 record in those sets to reach 96 wins. The Indians are now five games behind that pace, and would need to pick up an extra win each of the five remaining sets. That means an average of 17-10 per set the rest of the way, which is really tough to pull off. 90 wins could be enough to make the playoffs; that would require the Indians to go 16-11 per set (that would get them to 91 wins, actually).

Despite an exciting and solid series win over the A's for a season debut, the Tribe has floundered since, winning only two more series the rest of the way - against the Padres and the Royals. Those three series each featured great pitching performances (Justin Masterson, Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber), but those have been too few and far between. They lost series to pretty bad teams in the Twins and White Sox (who are both actually playing somewhat well), then went out West, where they've lost five in a row. Poor hitting has been a problem, but the lineup has showed enough good signs that it feels like they could bust out.

Set 2 is a mirror of Set 1 in some ways. We have tonight's game against the Angels. Then we revisit the White Sox, Twins, Blue Jays, A's, and Tigers. We see the Orioles and Rays for the first time, and finish with the White Sox again. A lot of the criticism of last year's team was that they played better than anyone against sub .500 teams, but got hammered when they faced a team of playoff caliber. I feel like it was like that in 2011. Any team in the playoffs should beat up on weaker teams, but the Tribe isn't even doing that right now. I know a lot has also been written that the Tribe had a terrible April last year, but at this point last year, they'd broken out of their funk and were on a tear. Starting a similar tear even a week late could put them in too large hole for the season, so they'd better get going.

In order to maintain pace simply for the set, the Indians could still lose tonight, but then need to win two out of three against the White Sox twice, the Rays, Blue Jays, and A's. They can split the four game series with the Orioles and Twins, and only have to scrape one win against the Tigers. To be playoff contenders, however, they ought to pick up one or two extra wins this set. They could do that with a victory tonight, an extra win against the Tigers, or maybe a 4-game series win.

Sweeps aren't something that should be counted on, but after doing some rough calculations, I found that a playoff team needs to pull off a 3-game sweep for every series it loses, and two sweeps for every time it gets swept. Thus, the Tribe will need to get about six 3-game sweeps to gain some ground - that's about one a month from here on out. It might be interesting to see how many sweeps the playoff teams in the WC era get a season, which maybe I'll add in the comments if I feel obligated. I'm fine if the Indians just tread water over the next two sets, go 15-12 or 16-11. Win two out of three sets, then heat up in the second half.

I shrugged off the early season losses last year and this year because it seems the general disposition is that everyone wants the Tribe to win 20 in a row and then just play .500 ball the rest of the way. If you play one game above .500 ball in each set, you win 84 games, so it doesn't take much extra to be playing meaningful baseball in September. I'm trying to keep that perspective of things, that it's a long season, and still early. Keep grinding. (Grinding my teeth maybe.)

Here's this set's table, which will be updated after each series:

90 Win Pace
Opponent Total Games Wins Needed Actual Wins Pace Season Pace
Angels 1 0 0 - -4
White Sox 3 2 2 - -4
Twins 4 2 3 +1 -3
Rays 3 2 2 +1 -3
Blue Jays 3 2 1 + -4
A's 3 2 0 -2 -6
Tigers 3 1 3 + -4
Orioles 4 2 2 + -4
White Sox 3 2 0 -2 -6
96 Win Pace
Opponent Total Games Wins Needed Actual Wins Pace Season Pace
Angels 1 1 0 -1 -6
White Sox 3 2 2 -1 -6
Twins 4 2 3 - -5
Rays 3 2 2 + -5
Blue Jays 3 2 1 -1 -6
A's 3 2 0 -3 -8
Tigers 3 1 3 -1 -6
Orioles 4 2 2 -1 -6
White Sox 3 2 0 -3 -8
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