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Choo Injury Signals End of Playoff Hopes

Posted By Bradley Ross On Aug 24 2011 @ 10:48 pm In Cleveland Indians | 2 Comments

The Cleveland Indians playoff hopes are, for all intents and purposes, gone.  They now stand at 63-64 (6.5 games back in the Division).  What’s worse is Shin Soo-Choo was injured in the game today.  There is no news on the extent of the injury, but this is the last thing the Indians needed.  If Choo has to go back on the Disabled List, Cleveland’s playoff chances are shot.

6.5 games back doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is, especially when your team is playing horrid (lost 6 of their last 7).  The Indians have to make up 6.5 games in the standings over 35 games – which would require a collapse by Detroit and a simultaneous turnaround by the Indians.  If the Tigers go .500 for the rest of the season, the Indians would have to win 70% of their games, which doesn’t happen very often.  If the Indians were to play like the Yankees and win 60% of their games, it would require the Tigers to play like the Royals.

 This is a team that can’t win a series right now against the last place Mariners at home.  It took a great effort and a walk-off home run by Choo on Tuesday.  Choo has been playing out of his mind since he returned from the DL.  He is hitting .372 since getting injured and has 3 HR with an OPS of 1.089.  It’s been good he found his groove because Travis Hafner was an empty uniform before he got hurt, going 2/18 with 8 Ks in his last 5 games before going on the DL. Hafner now finds himself shelved.

 

It was clear this team already had a small margin for error.  They were winning close games with timely hitting and were a relatively healthy team.  Even when guys would get hurt, someone like Jason Kipnis would step up and produce.  But now, Kipnis and Hafner have joined Grady Sizemore and Carlos Carrasco on the Disabled list.  The Indians had little depth going into the season and now are forced to play Shelly Duncan and Lonnie Chisenhall at DH, neither of whom is anything special as a hitter right now .  Overall, only a few guys currently playing (Fukudome, Choo, Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera) have been competent hitters in August and one (Choo) could be on the DL.

 To complement the lack of hitters, the pitching has been poor recently.  The only starter who has come out without having a poor start recently somehow is Fausto Carmona.  The rest have had poor starts, including 3 dreadful outings by Ubaldo Jimenez, David Huff, and Zach Mcallister.  Ubaldo doesn’t seem to have gotten his footing yet in the AL and even when he makes good pitches in good spots, is getting hit.

 

There is hope.  A miniscule, 1 in 10,000 chance they win the division.  If Ubaldo can turn it around and Choo is hitting like he has been recently, they have a chance.  Not a very good one and the odds are very much against them but its there.  They still probably will need another player to step up and the rest of the players who have been struggling to get back into form.  Even with a dominant 1-2-3 punch in the rotation, they won’t win the ridiculous amount of games they need. So long as the offense will only score 3.8 runs a game like they have done over this stretch the odds go down.   They also still have 6 games against Detroit and if they can win both series, there is a chance but it would require much help from other teams as winning the next 2 series on this homestand, both of which are against easy teams

 

This season has been incredible to watch and has shown there are many reasons to be hopeful about the future of this team. Players such as Asdrubal and Masterson putting up seasons that even the most optimistic fans wouldn’t have predicted.  The fact is, the Indians were lucky for a while – getting dominant pitching out of Tomlin and Fausto, and an inexperienced bullpen.   There was some luck involved in them winning 60% of 1-run games during the first half of the season.  It was luck too that with injuries to their top 3 hitters, they still were a competent hitting club.

 This second half collapse has been due to a lot of things but mostly, they walked off of the thin line on and its back to reality.

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