For the first time in MLB History, two teams have concurrent 13+ game winning streaks, as the Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks have both been playing some incredible baseball as we roll towards the postseason. Every member of these two fanbases should be happy, all except two of them: William Barr and Mike Strmac, the co-owners of Universal Windows Direct. Why? Because they just lost $1.7 million dollars. UWD came up with the idea for the promotion in July stating that “If the Indians stage a 15-game winning streak from Aug. 1 to the end of the season, any business done with the store — window installation, siding, doors and other services — would be free.”
The Cleveland Indians have not lost a game since August 24th.
I mean, that’s a pretty safe bet for Universal Windows, considering that only 1 in the last 30 years team has ever had a 15+ game winning streak from August onward. The 2002 Oakland Athletics went on an insane winning streak, breaking the American League record of 19 games, held by the 1947 New York Yankees. For more on that season and Brad Pitt, check out Moneyball and then read Moneyball, because it’s an insanely good book.
Anyway, let’s get back to Ohio. The Tribe has been on a tear and have their sights set on the postseason since the season started. There’s a hunger in the eyes of Cleveland’s players, one that comes from having a trophy ripped out of your hands in Game 7 of the World Series. There’s a sense of purpose, a sense of worth, a will to win. It’s all there in Cleveland. This is a team who is trying to win the last game of the season.
So how did they get here? How did this Cleveland team get back on the horse after a heartbreaking loss in last years World Series? By doing the same thing they did last year; playing smart baseball.
On the hill, the Tribe has been solid since the beginning of the season. Besides Chris Sale, the only other pitcher who legitimately scares me is Corey Kluber. This is guy is on this planet to do two things: strikeout batters and find Sarah Connor and kill her. Seriously, Corey Kluber has been nothing but lights out every time he touches a baseball. In his 25 starts, Kluber has struck out less than 7 batters only 4 times, and with his WHIP below .900, he’s suffocating opposing hitters. To think that Corey Kluber won’t win the Cy Young with numbers that are on par with his 2014 stats, when he last won the award is ludicrous at this point. And it’s not just Kluber who’s dominating on the hill, it’s the whole goddamn staff. Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer are also putting in dominant performances for the Tribe as they near the finish line. A dominant Kluber, a healthy Carrasco and a Drone-Free Bauer are a recipe for success in 2017.
Over the past two weeks, the Indians have been tearing the cover off the ball, hitting .313, with 30 home runs and a .983 OPS. Those are team numbers. If I was facing a guy who was hitting those numbers for the season, I would be worried, but when it’s an entire team, that spells impending doom. While on their 15 game winning streak, Cleveland has outscored their opponents 109-28. Sweet Jesus. The Tribe is raking and their hottest hitter coming into the season hasn’t even started to heat up. Instead of an offense centered around Edwin Encarnacion, the Indians are looking at José Ramirez as their hottest, most dangerous bat.
Ramirez is leading the Tribe in hits, runs, doubles, triples, batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS. Ramirez is the hottest bat, which will allow other guys to ease up a little and start hitting again. In the past week, we’ve seen Francisco Lindor heat up, along with Lonnie Chisenhall and Austin Jackson. This kind of offensive prowess and confidence spreads throughout a team like a wildfire, and if the Tribe can harness it and ride it all the way to November, then they have a strong chance of raising a World Series banner over Progressive Field.
The Diamondbacks have been quietly succeeding out west this year, winning their last 13 games. Any team in the Western divisions not named the Astros or Dodgers has somewhat slipped through the cracks, due to the lack of interest and with the NL Wildcard race all but sewn up since July. The Diamondbacks, much like their streaky counterparts, have been playing some of the best baseball we’ve seen this season.
A year after they were the laughing stock of the league for banking on Shelby Miller, the D-Backs pitching rotation has come into its own. Greinke is the Ace of the staff and has shown up in a big way since his rough first year in the desert. While he’s still not up to his 2015 form, Greinke seems to have found a middle ground between astounding and alright. What Greinke gives you is top notch pitching every time he steps onto the rubber, and forces the opposing hitters to take advantage of mistakes, things Greinke doesn’t make too often.
After Greinke, you have to face Robbie Ray, the southpaw of the southwest. Ray has been one of my favorite pitchers to watch for the past few years. He’s a simple left-handed pitcher who throws smart, eloquent strikes. Seriously. The guy is close to robotic he’s hitting spots so cleanly. Robbie Ray is an excellent second game starter to follow Greinke and it doesn’t go downhill from there. Godley, Corbin and the gigantic Taijuan Walker round out a staff of flamethrowers in the desert. In a climate that has lent itself well to offenses building a strong pitching staff has always been a priority for the D-Backs and all of that hard work has come to light in 2017.
At the dish, the D-Backs have also been shining in the desert sun. Goldschmidt has been doing Goldschmidt things all season, but Jake Lamb and midseason acquisition J.D. Martinez have been swinging hot bats since the deadline. The first thing that sticks out when looking over the D-Backs lineup is the relenting amount of speed and power. There are few players on the Arizona roster who aren’t threats at the plate and even more threatening on the basepaths. These guys have a tendency of making an opposing pitcher pay at the plate and then placing a pillow over his head when they’re on base.
The Diamondbacks remind me of the 2015 Kansas City Royals and their keep the line moving mentality. A runner on base was not just a nuisance, he was a threat, an itch on the back of your neck that you can’t scratch. What made the Royals so successful was their ability to get men on and capitalize on those opportunities. The 2017 D-Backs are hitting just below where those Royals were during the 2015 campaign. So do the Arizona Diamondbacks scare me as they sprint towards October? Yes. Yes, they do. And if they keep going at this clip, they’ll have a tough time slowing down.
On the opposite side of these streaks sits the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are absolute TRASH this year. The Dodgers are not the best team in baseball, they are in fact, the worst. The only team worse than the Dodgers is the Phillies and it’s VERY close.
Just kidding, the Dodgers are the best team in Baseball and it’s not even close, but their past 15 games have not gone so well. The best team in baseball has finally hit the skids, putting up a 3-12 record over the past 15 games. And if the Dodgers lose tonight it would be 13th L in 14 games. No World Series winner has ever gone through 1-13. In fact, since losing Rich Hill’s No-Hitter after a walk-off home run in the top of the 10th, the Dodgers have hit .200/.267/.316. That’s not going to win games in the big leagues or even AAA. This ship needs to be righted.
Last night Clayton Kershaw went 3.2 innings, giving up 4 earned runs, 6 hits, 3 walks and striking out 7 Rockies at Coors Field. This is a perfect representation of the Dodgers at this point in the season. While striking out 7 is great for 3.2 innings, the other aspects of this are utter garbage. That’s a Mets stat line, not one from Clayton “Literally Sandy Koufax” Kershaw.
The Dodgers need to stop the skid and fast which is actually the worst part about all of this that if I’m Dave Roberts, I want to rest my everyday players. The September call-ups are an easy way to get your guys fresh for October while seeing what the future holds for your squad. The opposite is now true for L.A., where these everyday players are going to need to snap out of this cold streak they’ve gotten themselves into. Your big guys have to play out of the funk, not something you want to do going into the postseason. I mean, you’re still the best team in baseball, but you gotta start playing like it. I mean, JEEZ.