The Cleveland Indians have shot past most of the baseball world and emerged as arguably the best team in baseball. The roster is stacked with offensive firepower and the pitching staff is spearheaded by ace Corey Kluber, who is poised to win the second CY Young Award of his career. The Tribe rolled through the American League a season ago on their way to the World Series, but no one can expect the trip back to be just as worry free.
So who is the team that can knock off the Tribe? Is it Houston, who currently sits only a game back of Cleveland for first place in the American League? Could it possibly one of the Wild Card teams, looking to catch lightning in a bottle and ruin the World Series hopes of the favored Indians? Or could it be Boston, even more talented than last year and seeking revenge for the dismantling they received from the Tribe last October?
With all respect to the Houston Astros, I think the answer is in fact the Boston Red Sox. Maybe I just want to see the latest installment in a rivalry between two great sports cities. Another Boston vs. Cleveland series is something any sports fan can get excited about, but that is not my reasoning here. Despite Houston having the better record, I give the nod to Boston first due to their pitching. The Sox are fourth in the majors in team ERA (the Indians are first) and have the only pitcher in the American League even close to the level Kluber is currently pitching at. Chris Sale and Kluber have gone back and forth as the CY Young favorites all season and Sale is the only pitcher I would say has a reasonable chance of out dueling Klubot.
Houston has had the best offense in baseball this year, but pitching rules in the postseason. The Astros do not have a poor pitching staff, but it is not as strong as Boston’s. The Sox’s offense has not been as strong as it was a season ago, but many of the same players remain on the roster. The Red Sox line up has the potential to light up any pitcher if they can capture the production the team had last year for a series or two. The combination of that offensive potential and the strong pitching makes Boston the team the Indians should keep an eye on as the postseason begins.
I do feel the Indians will return to the World Series without an incredible amount of resistance coming from the AL. The team has a great knack for finding bizarre and exciting ways to win, and has all of the stereotypical trademark dimensions to it that many previous World Series champions have shown. Really, the team that presents the biggest threat to the Indians is quite frankly the Indians. That being said, if someone else is going to stand between the Tribe and another World Series appearance, my money is on the Red Sox.