The Indians enter the postseason as underdogs, despite running away with the central division title months ago. It’s a stark contrast to last year, when many experts picked the Indians to win the World Series. They ended up losing early to the Yankees.
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says the Indians' early 2017 exit versus their improbable 2016 World Series run shows how difficult it is to predict the playoffs in baseball.
But, he says in baseball, once a team wins its division, anything can happen. "Because then you hope to get hot in October."
Benefitting from a short series
Pluto also says the Indians will benefit from a short series against World Series champion Houston. The ALDS is a best-of-five game series, while the ALCS and World Series are best-of-seven.
"The longer the series goes, the more likely the team with the better talent and depth will win," he says.
Pluto says a good example of this is the Indians' 2016 ALDS against the Red Sox.
"Nobody picked the Indians to win that series. But, they jumped on them 2-0 in Cleveland. When they went to Fenway Park, the fans in Boston were walking in like they were going to an Irish wake already. If you're playing best of seven, I don't think you feel that way. Because there's time."
Pluto also says pitching will play a big factor in this opening series. The Indians will go with 20-game winner Corey Kluber in game 1 and Carlos Carrasco in game 2. They both appear healthy, and that's a good sign.
"Along with Mike Clevinger, they've got really good pitching. But, statisically, the only team in the American League that has better pitching than the Indians is Houston."
"There is unpredictability about baseball that you don't get in say, the NBA. Nobody is picking the Indians. But I see a scenario because of their pitching that allows them to win."
Betting on Josh Donaldson
Still, Pluto says fans who are feeling nervous following last season's early playoff exit need to look at how the front office responded.
"They brought in third baseman Josh Donaldson, who has spent quite a bit of his career playing with teams in the postseason. So far he's been healthy. They brought him in not for how he plays in September but for how he plays in October."
"This is their fourth time in the playoffs the last six years and the third season in a row. If you're a fan, this is what you want to see."