The View From Pluto: Do The Battered Indians Have a Chance in the Postseason?
The Indians are inching toward their first American League Central title since 2007, but they’re limping to the finish line. Following a dramatic walk-off win last night, the Indians lead Detroit by seven games in the division with less than two weeks to go in the season. But, some sportswriters have already written off their chances in the postseason following injuries to several key players.
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says just when we thought the Cleveland sports curse ended when the Cavs won the title in June, it feels like it’s back:
“Curses don’t die easily, we know that," Pluto says. "And with the Indians, you just wish they had a break that wasn’t a fracture."
Injuries pile up
The bad news started earlier this month when the Indians No. 3 starting pitcher, Danny Salazar, strained his forearm and is likely done for the season.
Then, their No. 2 starting pitcher, Carlos Carrasco, got hit in the hand with a line drive this past weekend, ending his season. “It was kind of a freak injury,” Pluto says.
And, the bad luck culminated with catcher Yan Gomes, who fractured his wrist playing in AA-Akron. He had been on the disabled list since July. “He was on his last rehab game; they were going to bring him to Cleveland the next day. Hit by a pitch.”
Reshuffling the rotation
Pluto says the Indians still have Corey Kuber as their ace. Then, they’ll move Trevor Bauer to the No. 2 spot in the rotation and at No. 3, it’s likely Josh Tomlin. “Earlier in the year he was very good, then he wore down. They took him out of the rotation. They rested him for two weeks. He pitched pretty well for 5 innings. So you could try him as a starter. Then there’s Mike Clevinger and you could still have 12 pitchers total with eight relievers. So, they could try to patch together."
Bound for the postseason
At this point, the Indians are looking likely to win their division. "They still have the second-best record in the American League," Pluto says. "The most shocking thing about the Indians is that for all their pitching – their pitching is very good – they’ve been second in the league in runs scored all year."
And he says the key in the postseason is going to be the bats. "They would have to be kind of these younger guys with a couple of old heads getting hot at the right time, and see what happens! You could go back and look if the Indians get knocked out of the playoffs in the first round, their season really ended Sept. 17, the end of the week they lost Salazar, Gomes and Carrasco. You start to think, who else is going to hurt before the end of the season?!"
Still, Pluto says the team has been entertaining, and that’s something special. “They have characters on the team that people have grabbed on to. That’s very important. Yes, winning is a lot more fun. But they’ve been winning in unique fashions and if you’ve got a drop of underdog blood in you and you’re from Northeast Ohio and even have any connection, they’re a team you want to pull for."
And, he says, he'd rather root for the Indians than some other teams, like Boston. “Who really wants to pull for the Red Sox, for heaven’s sakes and all their doom and gloom,” he says, tongue-in-cheek. ‘We have it so hard we only have a $200 million payroll!’ Give me a break. And they have these celebrity mourners, like Stephen King. If you want real mourners, come to Cleveland! Here’s Fred from Copley, he’s been watching bad ball for as long as he can remember and ... he’s still there!
Or John Adams. He’s out there in the last row of the bleachers pounding that drum rain or shine. I remember when I was covering the Indians for the Plain Dealer in the early 80’s and he’s out there in the old bleachers in the stadium, and it’s just echoing all over the place…Boom Boom! Boom Boom! And I'm thinking, I’m getting a migraine! They’re down 8-1 in the fourth! Boom Boom! Boom Boom!
So, hopefully now he’ll be pounding on that drum and the fans will be clapping along with him and that's what you want!"
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