Cleveland Indians Benefiting From Underachieving American League Central, Good Baseball

(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America)

Cleveland, you’ve got yourself a division leader.

Like the Baltimore Orioles, an unexpected sight atop the Central division has the Cleveland Indians in first place by two games. It seems to be redemption week for the clubs I wasn’t too keen on. Here was my initial review back on April 2:

Depleted rotation with the legal issues facing the man formerly known as Fausto Carmona. Derek Lowe is new addition, but a return to the American League won’t be kind to him as he has struggled with ERA’s in the four’s last three seasons. Grady Sizemore gets another chance to prove he’s healthy and capable to play everyday. – The Locker, April 2, 2012

Well now they’re 20-16 and lead the division by two games and I’m left eating crow to this point in the season.

Lets not get ahead of ourselves too much, Derek Lowe will not continue to pitch sub-2.00 baseball, and considering he’s the only starter who seems to be putting together quality starts I see immediate trouble ahead if they don’t turn that trend around.

So how have they done it to this point, you ask? Look no further than their schedule. Since day one the combined record of the teams they’ve played is 150-175, and the only reason it isn’t worse is because they’ve played one series against the Rangers, one against an Oakland team also benefiting from a weak division schedule (first 12 against the Mariners, Royals, and Angels) and Toronto.

They’ve had nice successes with Asdrubal Cabrera picking up where he left off and Hannahan playing well at third. Major kudos go to Manny Acta as he’s proven he has the ability to manage well with the pieces he has and keep things together.

They have an opportunity here to really capitalize on this opportunity early in the season because their schedule benefits them. Their toughest stretch isn’t until June when they play the Yankees, Cardinals, Reds, and Orioles. If they can take advantage of the soft division schedule and get to June in a position to possibly stay afloat or come out of it with a winning record it could get interesting for some preseason favorites in that division.

Bottom line for this club is they need their pitching to put together more quality starts and their bullpen to start stabilizing. This offense isn’t built to mash, so manufacturing will be key.

It’s a nice story them being in first, but if they don’t address the issues plaguing them it will be just that come July.

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