Yes, the Cleveland Indians lost three of four games to the New York Yankees at Progressive Field to conclude the first half of the season. It was something that could have been somewhat expected because the Indians seem to get dominated by the Yankees at home. But, some fans of the team at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario need to step back, take a deep breath, look at the entire first half of the season as a whole, and relax.
In a first half that included a franchise record 22-6 record in June that was due in part to a franchise-best 14-game winning streak, the Indians demonstrated (and proved) why they are one of the best teams in the MLB. Finishing the first half of the season with a 52-36 record, the club currently holds a 6.5-game lead in the American League Central division, the fifth-best record in MLB, and second-best in the AL.
Let's be honest, the 19-inning game in Toronto on July 1 that resulted in a win for the Indians seemed to have done more damage than actual good. While the bullpen has seen plenty of different arms since that game, the team has won just three of the nine games. With the pitchers having some struggles headed into the break, the position players also appeared to need the extended rest.
With arguably the best rotation in baseball, the starting pitchers have been able to lead the team. To much surprise, Corey Kluber could be argued as the worst starting pitcher for the team in the first half, and he is the team's ace and an All-Star. Re-read that statement, think about it for a second, and you'll truly realize how good this starting rotation has been.
But, even with their struggles during the stretch to start the month of July, Cleveland still holds a comfortable lead atop the division and should be in the driver's seat to win the AL Central pennant to advance into the playoffs. The All-Star break couldn't have come at a better time for the Indians. Whether it's to rest their pitchers' arms, getting rest in general, or allowing their minds to drift away from baseball for a few days, the Tribe needed the time off.
Don't forget, the team has been without All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley.. With his return looming and looking to be sooner rather than later, the team will add another needed bat to the lineup for the second half push. And, with Yan Gomes struggles hitting in 2016, the imminent return of Roberto Perez at catcher could also pay dividends.
With the second half of the season set to begin Friday, look for the Indians to be not only rejuvenated and well-rested, but also one of the best teams in all of baseball. Just remember Cleveland, this might be the Indians' best team since the 1990's. Don't take them for granted or overreact when they struggle because slumps are bound to happen in baseball. And, outside of a devastating second half, the first place Indians will be playing in October, and possibly into November. Never take it for granted and just R-E-L-A-X, Cleveland fans.