AL Central Update – 09/16/13: Cleveland Indians Just Half Game Out Of Wild Card


Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The American League Central Division has acquitted itself well in 2013, at least at the top. Detroit is winning the division easy enough but with just two weeks of the season remaining, the Central still has two teams in the 6-team mix for the two wild card berth. Cleveland, after a strong week,is just a half a game out, while Kansas City, is now on the fringes, still 3.5 games out. Time is not on the Royals’ side.

Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

1) Detroit Tigers (86-63, 0 GB): Last week – 4-2. Summary: It was all about the pitching for the Tigers last week, as Detroit only allowed 12 runs in their six games. They came out on top in two of the games in a hard fought  series this weekend against the Royals. The series win has left Kansas City with very dim hopes. Detroit gets to coast into the post season as none of the teams they have left on their schedule hve won more than 66 games. The Tigers will have plenty of time to rest their key players down the stretch.

Top Three WAR – Hitting: Miguel Cabrera (6.8), Austin Jackson (3.7), Jhonny Peralta (3.5). Pitching: Max Scherzer (5.9), Anibal Sanchez (5.7), Justin Verlander (3.5).

2) Cleveland Indians (81-68, 5 GB): Last week – 5-2. Summary: The Indians had a hiccup early in the week, dropping 2 out of three to the scrambling Royals, but they bounced back nicely and did what needed to be done – they swept a 4-game series against the hapless White Sox. Cleveland has positioned themselves nicely in the wild race, sitting only a half game out. After this week’s important series with the Royals in Kansas City, the Tribe plays their last 10 games of the season against the weakest competition the American League has to offer – Houston, Chicago, and Minnesota. As long as the Indians can avoid being swept by the Royals over the next three day, they have an excellent chance of winning one of those wild cad berths.

Top Three WAR – Hitting: Jason Kipnis (5.4), Carlos Santana (3.7), Nick Swisher (3.5). Pitching: Justin Masterson (3.2), Ubaldo Jimenez (2.1), Corey Kluber, Joe Smith (1.6).

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

3) Kansas City Royals (78-71, 8 GB): Last week – 3-3. Summary: If the Royals go 3-3 in June against the Tigers and the Indians on the road, everyone would think what a good road trip it was. When you are fighting for your first post season appearance since 1985, it wasn’t quite good enough. Two of the three losses were especially painful as many believe manager Ned Yost cost his team a chance at winning. With just two weeks to go, the Royals playoff hopes could be settled within the next 3 days. They must win 2 of the games against Cleveland, and they really need to win all three. If either of those things happen, then they must repeat the feat against Texas this weekend. If the Royals don’t win at least 2 against Cleveland, the hopes will be gone. It is down to this.

Top Three WAR – Hitting: Alex Gordon (3.9), Salvador Perez (3.5), Eric Hosmer (3.3). Pitching: James Shields (3.0), Ervin Santana (2.7), Greg Holland (2.6).

4) Minnesota Twins (64-84, 21.5 GB): Last week – 3-4. Summary: The Twins barely showed up for their weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Twins did not score for the first 24 innings of the series before exploding for 6 in the last two innings on Sunday to pull out a 6-4 victory. At this point, the Twins have become irrelevant in the fact that other than the final series of the season against Cleveland, the outcomes of their games will have little to no impact on the playoff picture.

Top Three WAR – Hitting: Joe Mauer (5.2), Brian Dozier (3.5), Pedro Florimon (2.5). Pitching: Glen Perkins (1.8), Anthony Swarzak (1.7), Sam Deduno (1.5).

5) Chicago White Sox (58-91, 28 GB): Last week – 1-6. Summary: The Sox were outscored 43-12 in week that included a 6-game losing streak, which is still active. At this point, Chicago should be playing for pride. They do still have 14 of their 15 final games against divisional foes. A hot streak now would certainly wreak havoc for a couple of those rivals’ post season plans.

Top Three WAR – Hitting: Alex Ramirez (2.0), Gordon Beckham (1.0), Alex Rios (.9). Pitching: Chris Sale (6.9), Jose Quintana (5.1), Hector Santiago (2.9).

Detroit can use these final couple of weeks to rest Miguel Cabrera a little bit and any other Tiger that may be nicked up. Cleveland is in a very good position to earn a spot in the playoffs, and the Royals will need a miracle. It’s exciting still having playoff possibilities for so many teams.