FanPost

27 Games Later: 2014 (Set 3)

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

I just spent about 25 minutes looking for a specific picture of a facepalm. The image I have stuck in my head is of Stan Smith from American Dad just closing eyes with a grimace on his face with doing a facepalm. I've had that image in my head every since Tuesday's loss to the White Sox. The Tribe went 13-14 in Set 2, which while not terrible, did not mitigate against a disastrous Set 1.

84 wins looks to be the absolute ceiling for this team. After a terrible first Set, the Indians had battled their way back a single game advantage on Set 2 pace and after a sweep of the Tigers were in prime position to pounce on an Orioles team and beat up on the White Sox to gain some ground back on the season. They beat themselves, however, and the sweep at the hand of the White Sox may prove to be a critical if not fatal blow to playoff chances. Instead of holding steady and carrying over a reasonable deficit for the season pace, they lost 2 games off the pace at the very end of the set to put them 6 games behind a 90 win season and 8 games behind a 96 win season.

96 wins is pretty much dead at this point. With only four sets left, that means they have to pick up an extra two wins a set - assuming they can meet the already high pace of 16-11 for those four. That means for 96 wins - the Tribe has to go 18-9 for each set the rest of the way. I don't really see that happening.

90 wins has a little bit more life, but not much. At six games back, the Tribe needs to pick up two wins in three sets, above the already expected 15-12 pace, for a 17-10 record. In looking at the schedule, this seems doable in the last three sets, as there are many games against the Royals, Twins, and White Sox (who I still believe the Tribe can beat for God's sake) as well as the Astros, Diamondbacks, Reds, etc. Some very beatable teams in those sets.

The problem, however, is Set 3. Before the season, Set 3 looked to be the toughest schedule for the Tribe. While some teams look worse than they did at the beginning of the season, others look better, and Set 3 still looks to be difficult. While the Red Sox look worse, the Rockies and Angels look better than I thought. The Rangers I'm still undecided on - their rotation has taken a beating, yet they lead the AL in shutouts. In all there are seven total games against the Red Sox, who always seem to beat up on the Tribe, four-game series against the Angels and Rangers, three-game series against the Rockies and Tigers, and two-game series with the Royals and Diamondbacks. We also get the first two games of a three-game series against the Mariners.

My hope for Set 3 is to simply tread water. Don't give up any ground. Go 15-12 (or 16-11!) and head into the easier part of the schedule on what would be an improvement over the first two months of the season. As such, the Wins Needed still reflects standard pace as with this schedule, asking them to pick up wins is a little steep right now. The Tribe can meet regular pace this season and still be within a shot of 90-wins. But another set of falling short is pretty much as close to dead as you can get. I'd still hold out hope for a lot of wins in an easy schedule, but the Tribe has to play good baseball consistently first - which hasn't happened.

This year has been pretty frustrating - they've had great performances in all aspects at times - good hitting, good starting pitching, good bullpen - but it seems very hot and cold and they aren't firing at the same time. In the end, my experience in watching teams that so disparately hot and cold streaky means they end up about .500 - which puts them at about 81 wins.

As always, here's this Sets schedule. If we make it through this rough patch still alive, I'll start indicating where they need to pick up extra wins, but for now just meet the standard pace, for the love:

90 Win Pace
Opponent Total Games Wins Needed Actual Wins Pace Season Pace
Rockies 3 2 3 +1 -5
Red Sox 3 2 3 +2 -4
Rangers 4 2 3 +3 -3
Royals 2 1 0 +2 -4
Red Sox 4 2 2 +2 -4
Angels 3 1 2 +3 -3
Tigers 3 2 0 +1 -5
Diamondbacks 2 1 1 +1 -5
Mariners 3 2 1 + -6
96 Win Pace
Opponent Total Games Wins Needed Actual Wins Pace Season Pace
Rockies 3 2 3 +1 -7
Red Sox 3 2 3 +2 -6
Rangers 4 2 3 +3 -5
Royals 2 1 0 +2 -6
Red Sox 4 2 2 +2 -6
Angels 3 2 2 +2 -6
Tigers 3 2 0 + -8
Diamondbacks 2 1 1 + -8
Mariners 3 2 1 -1 -9
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