Scott: With the Athletics playing the Tigers in a four-game set, who should Indians fans be rooting for? Presently, Cleveland is 5.5 games behind Detroit in the division “race”, while standing just two games behind Oakland for the second Wild Card.
Theoretically, if the As sweep and the Tribe handles the Tigers, the AL Central is right there for the having. But this would also make the Wild Card inherently less attainable unless the Indians keep pace until September. So, should our rooting interests be aligned with something that would actually have the word “champion” in it or do we just want to go for what gives us the best chances?
Jacob: I threw in the towel on the division weeks ago. I remember just before the Tigers series earlier in the month, sports radio was all abuzz about how you can’t focus on the Wild Card in early August. Oh well, it’s Detroit.
Cleveland’s odds or winning the division have pretty much been under 15 percent since the All-Star break. Since the Detroit sweep, they’ve been closer to the 0-5 percent range. It’s just not happening. Sorry.
The Wild Card, on the other hand, is attainable—very much so, in fact. It’s been back and forth, currently hovering around 30 percent probability for Cleveland.
So yeah, in an ideal world, if the Tigers weren’t the Tigers and I saw that as a realistic case, sure, I’d prefer for them to lose and for that to happen. But the Wild Card—even in its new one-and-done self—is very much within reach. Go Detroit?
Jon: This is kind of a no-brainer for me too: I’m pulling for Detroit to take the next three. Whether we like it or not, our clearest path to the postseason is not the Division Championship; it’s one of the Wild Cards. Either way, none of this matters if the Indians do not keep winning, and it feels a bit early for me to be scoreboard watching. They need to go at least 6-3 against Atlanta, Detroit and Baltimore—three really good teams. If they do that, I’ll start shifting more focus to the competition. Until then, their performance is still by far the most important factor.
Craig: I’m somewhat neutral with a slight preference on the As. Mostly, I just hope for a sweep one way or the other. The Indians obviously need to keep winning, as Jon alluded to, but their path will be dictated by how the teams in front of them play.
Despite the abysmal record against Detroit so far this season, I’d always rather aim for the division title for my team. Yes, it feels like a much more obvious long shot that the Wild Card, but as long as I don’t have mystic powers to determine the outcome of the series, I’ll still hope for Detroit to collapse as the Indians take care of their business and rise to the occasion to win the Central.
Of course, if the As to get swept (from here out) by Detroit, that’s OK too as long as the Indians play well enough for the Wild Card race.
Scott: But wouldn’t a 2-2 series actually be better in the way that the two teams tread water while the Indians can actually gain ground?
Jacob: A non-sweep of the As only matters if the Indians actually do well over these next nine games. I’ll take the Tigers since my guess is more toward the 4-5 or 5-4 direction, meaning the Tribe will be out of division contention anyway. The Indians, after all, are just 29-41 (.414) against teams with a greater-than-.500 record.
Kirk: I would say the As if only because they could leapfrog Texas and take control of the West again. Texas, in turn, would drop down. But I have to agree with the majority: We’re going to have to be incredibly lucky to catch Detroit.
It’s a tougher road in the wild card, but you win one game and you’re in a series. It’s a chance and in baseball, that’s all you need. A chance to get hot at the right time. We’ve seen “Team Streak” do it before.
Andrew: Count me among those rooting for the Tigers. Even if the As swept the series, I still don’t think the Indians can win the division. Detroit has proven over and over again that they are the class of the AL Central. I’m all in on the Wild Card, and so I’m hoping for whatever will best help the Tribe get that birth.
So what say you, WFNY commentariat?