The Cleveland Indians were able to enter the All-Star break on a high note with three straight wins against the Kansas City Royals.
That followed a nine-game losing streak, and the hope is the momentum can continue as the second half of the season begins Friday.
However, the team is in for a tough test as soon as play begins again.
The first series is out west against the Oakland Athletics, who happen to be 52-40 on the year.
Three games against the Houston Astros, who have a 3.5-game lead over the A’s at 55-36.
A four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays follows that, so we are going to truly learn a lot about this Indians squad before the July 30 trade deadline.
A Monumental Two Weeks
The Indians enter the second half eight games back of the Chicago White Sox in the division.
The two teams actually meet up again July 30, the day of the trade deadline.
So while hope abounds about a fast start, falling 10 or more games back with two months to play could push the front office to make some moves.
Yet fans should still not worry about any blockbuster deals including players like Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, or Jose Ramirez.
Gosh darn good looking group of fellas. 🤩 pic.twitter.com/DCvQDhy1nd
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 12, 2021
That would truly be hard to believe given the fact the front office has seen this team can compete when healthy.
Keeping Ramirez around especially ensures one more year of trying to contend with him before potentially making a big trade.
And for fans remaining optimistic, all talk of selling big can be wiped away with even just a .500 start in this two-week stretch of play.
Young Pitchers In Focus
The Indians are opening the weekend in a do-or-die scenario.
With Eli Morgan on the mound.
Plesac is back in the rotation and pitching Sunday, but Morgan will be joined by Cal Quantrill, J.C. Mejia, and Triston McKenzie as the young pitchers looking to retain their jobs when Bieber and Civale are able to return.
Carl Willis is excited for Zach Plesac's return and commends him for the work he's put in to get back on the bump for the @Indians
"He’s gotten a lot more disciplined in his work, a lot more narrow focused" pic.twitter.com/eImiLK3xid
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) July 8, 2021
Based on past results, Morgan will likely be the first to lose his spot.
But he could always hold down the job with some great results.
That is basically where the entire roster is at this point.
Playing well will ensure no major changes are made, while another losing streak could mean the roster looks very different come the start of August.
It all starts against an A’s team that has serious World Series hopes in 2021.
The two teams have not yet met this season, so there is zero reason to count out the Indians just yet.
Everyone will be rested and Terry Francona can lean on his bullpen if needed in order to get some early wins and avoid any talk of selling creeping into the locker room.
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