A soul crushing loss by the Cleveland Indians last night sets them behind some more in the American League wildcard race. Instead of keeping pace with the Tampa Bay Rays, the Indians lost by a score of 8-3 and now find themselves 1.5 games behind the Rays. They went into yesterday down by just half a game, but with the loss and the Rays winning, the Indians are in a tough situation suddenly.
The Rays got a huge 5-1 win over the Yankees last night. They look like they want to be playing baseball in October, while the Indians are stuck in reverse. There is still time left to erase a 1.5-game deficit, though. A win and loss by the Rays and they’re back to just a half game back.
In other words, the Indians cannot call it a season yet. They may be down but they’re not out. This is the most interesting race left for the postseason. Everything else is shaping up, while the final wildcard situation in the American League hasn’t been determined.
The Twins are snatching the AL Central from them, as we’ll have a new winner in the division since 2015 when the Royals won. The Indians three-year streak will come to an end. And it isn’t like the Indians have had a bad season.
The Indians enter Thursday with a record of 93-64, so nothing bad about that. However, the competition level has been really stiff in the American League this season. They’d easily be going to the postseason if they were in the National League.
The two wildcard teams in the NL at the moment have records of 88-70 and 89-69. Minnesota have officially clinched, so the Indians don’t have to concern themselves with them any longer. They have to find a way to catch the Rays, though.
Cleveland were on a 7-1 run in their previous eight games before the loss a night ago. Aaron Civale and Dylan Cease will get the starting nods for their respective ball clubs tonight. Head below for our free Indians vs. White Sox pick.
Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago White Sox Pick:
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Aaron Civale has been the best performing pitcher for the Indians this month. They’ve gotten production out of a lot of guys this season and Civale has been on fire for them recently. I should say that Civale has been on fire through the entire duration of his major league career thus far. Civale has made nine starts in his career in the big leagues and all of them have been on point.
Civale enters with an ERA of 1.82 and 0.99 WHIP on the season. He has yet to have a game where he’s allowed more than 2 runs. In six out of his nine starts, Civale has allowed 1 or no runs. And like I said, he’s been on fire recently. Note that Civale carries an ERA of 1.53 and 1.19 WHIP in his previous three outings.
He’s allowed 1 earned run in each game, with one of those showings against the White Sox. In that particular game, Civale allowed 1 earned run in a 11-3 win for the Indians. He will have to do it again on Thursday night. The White Sox have been better against lefties this season, with a .279 batting average vs .248 against righties. Civale is a right-handed pitcher. His counterpart this evening, Dylan Cease, has been at his best lately.
It hasn’t been a textbook season for Cease, who will be making his 15th start as a rookie tonight. Cease holds an ERA of 5.79 and 1.55 WHIP, but has been looking great of late. Cease has posted an ERA of 1.88 and 1.53 WHIP in 14.1 innings. However, two of three of those games were on the road. Cease has struggled in Chicago, with a 6.82 ERA and 1.81 WHIP in 34.1 innings.
I have more confidence in Civale keeping the hot run going instead of Cease. This is the biggest game for the Indians up to this point. They really need a win here and we should expect them to respond after playing so poorly last night. Look for the Indians to record a win by 2 runs or more on Thursday.