The divisional races this year were supposed to be a snoozefest, and heading into the year there was an NBA-esque feeling of superteams destined for a meeting in the playoffs. Those meetings are still on the table, but we know better than really thinking we know what’s going to happen in any given baseball season, and only one of the preseason division favorites are actually in first place in their division. It’s strange, but that’s baseball. What’s particularly strange, however, is that the team occupying first place is the Indians, and they may be in a worse spot than all but one of the six preseason favorites.
Although Cleveland is in first place as we speak, that’s more because nobody apparently wants to win the American League Central this year. After another bad loss on Friday, the team has fallen down to 18-19 on the season and they’ve lost seven of their last ten games. The offense is in the bottom half of the league when you look at wRC+, and the pitching is just barely in the top half. The starting pitching has been mostly fine for Cleveland, but their bullpen has been a disaster. Part of their struggles were due to them losing Andrew Miller, but the lefty returned for Friday’s game and ... well, here’s how Let’s Go Tribe recapped that game. That’s not great!
It’s not all bad news for the Indians. For one thing, they are not the Dodgers, who lost 6-2 to Matt Harvey and the Reds and fell to 16-22 and to fourth place in the division. Cleveland’s start has been a mess and it’s been shocking and they look really bad. They’ve given their division the best shot they’ll likely get all year long, and nobody has taken advantage to this point. That being said, Minnesota was always viewed as the only other team in this division who had a realistic chance of stealing this division, and they are heading in the right direction. The Twins have won seven of their last ten and have pulled within a half-game of the Central despite a terrible start of their own. It’s hard to pick against Cleveland even now due to all of their talent. Still, they are reaching a breaking point with how many games they’ve blown, because no matter how much better you seem to be than your opponents, no one is immune to blown games coming back to bite them.
- The Diamondbacks are getting a new stadium, but that one has to be the last of the publicly-funded parks, right? RIGHT? You know what, don’t answer that.
- The Pirates rolled over the Giants on Friday, but the real story from that game was Andrew McCutchen making his return to Pittsburgh.
- The aforementioned Harvey made his Reds debut in Los Angeles on Friday, and he looked pretty strong in a relatively short outing.
- Mike Clevinger got an interesting piece of mail from the league, because of his cleats. This league can’t get out of its own way.
- The Mets are in a bad way and have been for a while since their red-hot start. They aren’t completely dead, though, and just need some tweaks.
- Los Angeles has been far and away the worst of the preseason favorites, and they need whatever help they can get right now. That includes a less-than-100-percent Justin Turner.
- Seattle, meanwhile, is hanging in a tough American League West, and they’re doing it exactly how they drew it up.
- Chris Tillman has been an absolute disaster for the Orioles, and they’ve reached a tipping point ... for now. He’s hitting the 10-day disabled list.
- It was a cool moment on Friday when Dustin Fowler made his first appearance with the A’s against the team where it was all supposed to begin last year, going up against the pitcher for whom he was traded.
- There have been 20 games played in Arizona so far this year, so it’s time to check in on how the humidor is affecting play.