While the Detroit Tigers have had things wrapped up in the Central for quite a while now, the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals are still battling it out, trying to stay alive in the wild card race. The Indians and the Royals play each other 6 times in the next 10 days, so look for one of those teams to emerge as a contender in the final days of the season, and for one to fade away.
1) Detroit Tigers (82-61, 0 GB): Last week – 2-4. Summary: The Tigers seem to be just coasting along right now. They are just 5-8 over the past two weeks and are still in no danger of losing the AL Central. It was a strange week for Detroit. In back-to-back games, they lost 20-4 to the Red Sox, and won 16-2 against the Royals the next game. Instead of just stepping on Kansas City’s necks while they were down, they dropped two in a row to the Royals after the beat down. The Tigers cannot afford to let done this week when they go to Chicago for three against the White Sox, then host the Royals for three more this weekend.
AL Team Rank – Hitting: Batting Average – .286 (1st); On Base Percentage – .349 (2nd); Slugging Percentage – .441 (2nd). Pitching: ERA – .372 (4th); WHIP – 1.26 (3rd); Strikeout per Nine Innings – 8.51 (1st).
2) Cleveland Indians (76-56, 5.5 GB, 2 GB WC): Last week – 4-2. Summary: The Indians are not giving in at all in the wild card race. They have scrapped their way right into the thick of things and sit just 2 games out. It helped to win 2 out of 3 games against the Orioles this past week. The Tribe have their biggest stretch of games of the season thus far coming up. They play the Royals 6 of their next 10 games, with 4 against the White Sox in between. If Cleveland is able to to win at least 4 of their games with Kansas City, and 3 against Chicago, they will remain a prime wild card contender. If the Royals get the best of them and the White Sox catch them off guard, things will go sideways for the Indians very quickly.
AL Team Rank – Hitting: BA – .252 (8th); OBP – .325 (6th); SLG – .406 (9th). Pitching: ERA – 3.96 (9th); WHIP – 1.33 (11th); K/9 – 8.42 (2nd).
3) Kansas City Royals (75-68, 7 GB, 3.5 GB WC): Last week – 5-2. Summary: The Royals are not the most talented team on the planet, but they continue to play just well enough to stay alive. Every time the it looks like Kansas City is going to fade away, they come back with another good stretch of games. This next ten days will determine if the Royals can stay relevant. They play 6 games against Cleveland, including 3 starting Monday, and 3 against Detroit this weekend. At this point, the Royals must just win their games and have the 5 teams in front of them lose more games than they win.
AL Team Rank – Hitting: BA – .261 (6th); OBP – .315 (9th); SLG – .379 (14th). Pitching: ERA – 3.53 (1st); WHIP – 1.29 (5th); K/9 – 7.45 (9th).
4) Minnesota Twins (61-80, 20 GB): Last week – 3-4. Summary: The Twins are just playing out the season at this point. They have dropped their last 4 games. They could be a big help to their divisional mates, the Indians and the Royals, by doing some damage to the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics this week. It doesn’t bode well for teams chasing the Rays and A’s that they get the Twins this week.
AL Team Rank – Hitting: BA – .242 (13th); OBP – .313 (12th); SLG – .386 (11th). Pitching: ERA – 4.31 (14th); WHIP – 1.38 (13th); K/9 – 6.06 (15th).
5) Chicago White Sox (57-85, 24.5 GB): Last week – 1-6. Summary: A win on Sunday broke up an 8-game losing streak for the White Sox. Very little is going right for the Sox right now and things are not going to get any easier. Their last 3 series have been against playoff contenders (Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles) and every game this week is against the Tigers and Indians. A hot streak right now would be helpful to the Kansas City Royals and really no one else. If you are a Royals fan, don’t count on it.
AL Team Rank – Hitting: BA – .250 (10th); OBP – .303 (14th); SLG – .378 (15th). Pitching: ERA – 3.90 (9th); WHIP – 1.31 (6th); K/9 – 7.90 (6th).
There are a lot of AL Central head-to-head match-ups this week and none of them favor the Royals. This may be the week they finally just fade away. The Indians must play well all week if they don’t want to lose all hope for their playoff dreams. It will be interesting if it plays out like it looks like it might on paper.