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Cleveland’s Pennant Odds Fade as Tribe Trail Tampa, Oakland in Wild Card Race

Mike Clevinger
Mike Clevinger and the Cleveland Indians saw their AL Pennant odds slip to +1500. Can the Tribe bounce back and make a deep playoff run? Photo from @ESPNCleveland (Twitter).
  • Cleveland’s AL Pennant odds have faded over the past 10 days
  • The Indians trail both the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card race
  • Do the Indians have what it take to claim a Wild Card spot and make a deep postseason run?

The Cleveland Indians’ Wild Card hopes have been fading this past week and so too their chances of winning an American League title.

The Tribe, who slipped to an average of +1500 in the AL Pennant odds leading up to their road game against the Los Angeles Angels, narrowed the gap in the Wild Card standings after a huge road victory on Monday night.

Cleveland still sits a half game behind Oakland and two games behind Tampa Bay heading into action on Tuesday night.

With the win, BetOnline shortened the Tribe’s AL Pennant odds while dropping Oakland and Tampa Bay. Bovada kept the Rays and Athletics in front, however.

MLB AL Pennant Odds

Player Odds at BetOnline* Odds at Bovada*
Houston Astros -110 -105
New York Yankees +175 +200
Minnesota Twins +800 +750
Cleveland Indians +1200 +1600
Tampa Bay Rays +1600 +1200
Oakland Athletics +2000 +1200
Boston Red Sox +5000 +4000

*Odds taken September 10.

The shift in odds comes after the Indians won back-to-back games, including taking two out of three on a road trip against the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins.

The Indians still trail the Twins by five games for the division lead. Cleveland made a huge mid-season run to pull even with Minnesota on August 12th – closing what had been a double-digit deficit – but has posted an average 14-12 record ever since. The Twins, on the other hand, went 17-8 to take charge of the AL Central.

That means the focus for the Indians is now on locking up a Wild Card berth. With 17 games remaining in the season, there’s little room for error if the Indians want to be a playoff team.

Wild Card Race Heats Up

The Indians have narrowed the Wild Card gap to 1.5 games behind the Rays for the first Wild Card spot. But even if the Tribe lock up one of the two AL Wild Card spots, they will still face an uphill battle in the one-game playoff, considering Cleveland went 1-6 against the Rays and 1-5 versus the A’s this season.

Of all the AL teams battling for a playoff berth, the Indians have among the fewest runs for this season, scoring 685. The positive is that the Tribe have also allowed among the fewest runs against (581) for a respectable run differential of +104, though that number also trails Oakland (+123) and Tampa (+105).

Heading into action on Tuesday, the Indians were given 47.4% chance of making the playoffs by FanGraphs. Comparatively, the Rays have an 84.2% chance, while the A’s boasted a 68.6% chance.

Can the Tribe Make a Deep Run?

Does Cleveland have enough to both get into the playoffs and make a deep postseason run?

Cleveland’s pitching has been solid all season as they hold the third-best ERA (3.72) in the American League. Only the Rays and Astros have better ERAs this season.

The Indians also sit second overall in quality starts with 74, which means the starting rotation — led by Mike Clevinger — can go the distance in one-run games typically seen in games this late into the season.

Clevinger has been an absolute beast on the mound for the Indians, posting an impressive 11-2 record with a 2.72 ERA and 139 strikeouts. He and Shane Bieber (3.27 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) form one of the best one-two punches in the majors.

It’s the rest of the rotation that is the question. Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac, and Adam Plutko all have an xFIP over 4.55 and have pitched a combined zero playoff innings.   Inconsistency and lack of experience at the end of the rotation puts Cleveland’s playoff hopes at risk.

Even if the Indians happen to lock up a playoff spot and advance past the Wild Card stage, they would likely have to face the powerhouse Astros in the ALDS starting on October 2.

If you’re looking for a team that can potentially knock out the Astros and make a deep run, look no further than the Minnesota Twins at +800.

They have scored the second-most runs in the American League, thanks in large part to having eight players with at least 20 home runs.

While not as deep as the Astros on the mound, the Twins definitely have what it takes to win the AL Central Division and give themselves a puncher’s chance in the ALDS and beyond.

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