Rain, Double Header Hinder Playoff Hopes

It may always be “Sunny in Philadelphia”, but in Cleveland, it has been raining on professional sports’ parades since 1964 and this weekend proved to be a continuation of that trend.

Thursday began a five game home series against the Detroit Tigers. The Indians won game one of the series 7-5 on the heels of a two home run performance from left fielder Michael Brantley.

Following that, rain took the city of Cleveland by storm and cancelled the next two games before a doubleheader took place Sunday.

During game one of the doubleheader, rookie Cody Anderson out-dueled ace and former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander en route to a 7-2 victory. The problem with any doubleheader for a squad like the Indians, that does not have the depth of talent of most contenders in the bullpen or line up, is that the team cannot use all of their stars for both games.

In game one of the doubleheader, skipper Terry Francona started Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes and Abraham Almonte, all of whom have higher batting averages than their replacements Mike Aviles, Jerry Sands, Roberto Perez and  Michael Martinez. In addition to that, Francona used bullpen arms Zach McAllister, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen, who are staples of this year’s Indians bullpen. In game, one compared to Ryan Webb, Giovanni Soto, Austin Adams, Gavin Floyd and Shawn Armstrong, who have a combined 72 games played this year–or roughly, 14 games per pitcher. The majority of those games belong to former Baltimore Oriole Ryan Webb, who has appeared in 35 games this season.

The Indians lost the second game of the doubleheader 9-2.

According to ESPN’s playoff probability statistic, coming into the day, the Indians, who were four games out of the wildcard and trailing the Angels by just a game and a half, had a 17 percent chance to make it to October. After winning the first game, the Indians were only three and a half games out of the wildcard and could be as close as three games with a sweep of the Tigers, as the Rangers game was coming to an end. That game also brought Cleveland to the 70-70 mark, making it the first time in 136 games that the Indians had been at or above .500.

Then reality hit Cleveland quickly. Not only did Detroit smoke the Indians in game two, but both Texas and Minnesota had claimed a victory to move up an additional half game on the Indians.

The game against Detroit, that still needs to be made up, does not have a tentative date yet. However, the Indians were not scheduled to play the Tigers for the remainder of the season, so it would be a one game series, just like the one against the Cubs that resulted in a walk-off loss for the Tribe a few weeks ago.

A positive outcome for the weekend is that Corey Kluber could make his first start Thursday, after being scratched from his last two starts with a hamstring tweak, according to ESPN.

Kluber is coming off of a Cy Young winning season and has been better, in terms of WHIP and opposing batting average, than in his Cy Young campaign. He has gotten hurt by opposing slugging percentage, though. Opponents are batting .004 lower than they were last year against the ace, but they are slugging .016 higher than they were. Essentially, it points to the fact that when Kluber is getting hit against this season, he is getting beat for extra bases, which points towards his ERA climbing from 2.44 to 3.41 while less batters have reached base safely against him.

The Indians will stay at home for seven more games against Kansas City and the Chicago White Sox before they travel to Minnesota for an important three game series. They are currently trailing the Twins by 3.5 games for second place in the AL Central and third in the AL Wildcard standings.

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