The Indians have one of the toughest stretches in baseball and easily the toughest stretch of their season due up. Not to mention most of it will be on the road. The Indians will finish up a three-game set in New York on Wednesday before heading to Detroit, followed by a trip to Texas and a three-game set at home against Washington.
The stretch really started back on May 21 when the Indians hosted Detroit, went to Boston and took on Cincinnati and Tampa Bay. Since the start of this swing, the Tribe is just 4-12.
There is still a lot of baseball left to be played and it is much better that the Indians see this brutal test know rather than later, but this may make or break the season. If the Indians came come out of this stretch at over .500 or even, they are in pretty good shape heading into the second half of the year.
The bats have certainly been inconsistent of late. Coming into Tuesday night, the Indians bats had struggled over the last ten games. Swisher, Brantley, Gomes, Kipnis, Reynolds and Stubbs were all hitting below .240 over their last ten games.
The starting pitching hasn't been the main problem, but arms that have been consistent so far this year have struggled lately in Justin Masterson and Zach McAllister. The bullpen has hit a serious snag with struggling lefties Nick Hagadone, Scott Barnes and Rich Hill and the team signed J.C. Romero recently to add some bullpen help. Once the biggest strength for Cleveland, the bullpen has struggled through the month of May and into June.
The injuries of Chris Perez (and drug investigation) and Asdrubal Cabrera have come at a bad time, but the Indians must push on without them. Mike Aviles, whose addition looks very good right now, will have to step up with Cabrera out of the lineup for a few weeks.
The Indians don't need to be perfect, but they can't afford to fall apart and take a nose dive right now. They can come back from a slump through this tough stretch, but if they can come out over .500, they will look very good in the race for a playoff spot. These are games and stretches that playoff teams can manage.
The last thing Cleveland needs right now is a big slump. With the series due up for the Tribe, it won't be easy to bust out of it.
I don't think a severe slump over this swing will take the Indians totally out of contention, especially with a manageable second half of the season due up. However, if they can come out in good shape, this will do wonders for the positioning of the team going into a much easier second half.