While Cleveland fans debate/scrutinize whether the Browns should start Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel at Pittsburgh Sunday, there’s another team in the city which has quietly put themselves in the playoff hunt.
Yes, the Cleveland Indians are still playing.
Baseball is such a long season with games every night, it’s sometimes hard to track the results.
But the Indians are in the playoff hunt, despite themselves at times.
Cleveland is 4.5 games out of the American League Central Division and four out of the wildcard.
They have to overtake Kansas City and Detroit for the division and the Tigers, Seattle and New York Yankees for the second wildcard.
Oakland has a 79-58 mark for the first wildcard spot.
The Indians have the chance right in front of them. They have six more games against Detroit and three against Kansas City (with another one to be completed).
Cleveland has won largely lately because of pitching.
Starter Corey Kluber has been solid, minus the last three starts.
But fellow starters Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer and the resurgence of Carlos Carrasco have also chipped in a major way.
The bullpen has been good all season, albeit overused, but it’s been working.
The offense has been sporadic, but once again they’re finding ways to win, with players like Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes leading the way and youngsters like Jose Ramirez and Zach Walters getting key hits.
A large reason the Indians are winning is the influence of manager Terry Francona, who is pushing the right buttons.
When he was hired prior to the 2013 season, I said he was the most significant hire of a Cleveland team in a long time.
How many times has a Cleveland team been able to hire a manager/coach with two world championships?
One area which hurts Cleveland is the lack of star power.
The Cavs have the return of LeBron James. The Browns have Johnny Manziel (although to me he hasn’t earned anything yet).
Cleveland’s best two players are Kluber and outfielder Michael Brantley — two quiet guys who just go out and do their job.
With all of this being said, I still don’t think they have enough for the division crown or a wildcard spot.
But they are relevant in September and that’s all a team can ask.