Despite losing a series to the Chicago White Sox for the first time in 2016, the Cleveland Indians have shrunk their magic number to win the AL Central down to eleven. The Tribe just dropped three out of four in the windy city, but the good news is that Detroit lost two series in a row (White Sox and Orioles), and just split a four game set with the Minnesota Twins. The second piece of good news is that Cleveland is coming home to Progressive Field for nine games, a venue they are 47-25 in this season. It will be crucial for Cleveland to win all three of these home series, as they are their final home games of the season and they are just 37-37 on the road this year. If they could somehow sweep Detroit again (Cleveland has swept Detroit 3 times this year, overall are 11-1 against them), it would shrink the magic number to five, and give them a chance to win the Central before hitting the road. However, realistically speaking, Cleveland needs to just focus on winning all three series and let the chips fall where they may. A 6-3 homestand would do just fine for Cleveland, but considering their final seven games are in Detroit and Kansas City, 7-2, or even 8-1 would make it much more comfortable.
Cleveland will send their ace, Corey Kluber, to the mound against Detroit rookie Michael Fulmer in game one of a weekend set
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The Cleveland homestand begins with a huge three game series with Detroit, as Corey Kluber and the Tribe will try to retain their dominance of their AL Central rival. In game one, Indians ace Corey Kluber will face AL ROY candidate Michael Fulmer, who owns a 2.76 ERA this season.
"I'm going to treat it like a normal start. Obviously, I know it's a big game, but nothing's going to change as far as our routine and our preparation and stuff like that. I'm going to treat it like every other start I've had this year, and hopefully all goes well and we get a good team 'W.'" - Michael Fulmer on game one start
One has to think that the upper hand goes to Corey Kluber in this game, considering he has gone 7-1 with a 2.14 ERA since the All-star break and Fulmer is a rookie who has struggled since the break (1-4, 3.49 ERA). After the game one ace off we're slated for Carlos Carrasco vs. Justin Verlander, and Trevor Bauer vs. Daniel Norris. Anything can happen in a baseball series, but you have to like Cleveland's chances to win this one.
After the Tigers, the Indians will get the 2015 World Series Champs the Kansas City Royals
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It has certainly been a disappointing year for the Kansas City Royals, but their season is far from over as they push for the second AL Wild Card spot. With several teams in on the Wild Card race, it would be almost impossible for the Royals to overcome their 5.5 game deficit; but if 2014-2015 taught us anything as far as the Royals are concerned, it's never say never. The good news for Cleveland is that they will not see Danny Duffy or Yordano Ventura, who are both pitching extremely well for the Royals right now. However, both Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger will pitch for Cleveland in this series, and while Cleveland is confident in both of them, there are definitely some questions to be answered about the both of them. The Indians chances in the series are very likable, but again, it's the Royals, anything can happen.
The final home series for Cleveland will be against the Chicago White Sox, who just took three out of four against the Tribe
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Wrapping up the final Cleveland homestand will be a three game series with the Chicago White Sox, the series of the season between these two teams. While the White Sox have only won one series against Cleveland this season, it seems like they have given them more trouble than almost anybody this year. If things go as planned, Cleveland will be able to throw both Bauer and Carrasco in this series, so once again, their chances for a series win look good.