The 2021 Cleveland Indians could be a team of destiny.
Or they could start the second half slow and end up being big sellers at the trade deadline.
No one really knows what will happen as the team ramps up again Friday night against the Oakland Athletics.
A 45-42 record is good enough to remain in the playoff hunt, for now, but things could change following the July 30 deadline.
Not knowing the true ceiling for this team provides plenty of excitement as play begins again.
So let’s look at three potential taglines for this 2021 squad by the time October is here and the regular season is finished.
3. “What If?”
Shane Bieber will throw weighted balls for the first time in his recovery from shoulder soreness.#Indians
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) July 9, 2021
The Indians are dealing with so many injuries, it is easy to ponder what the record would be if everyone had stayed healthy.
This specifically has to do with the starting rotation.
The likes of Eli Morgan, Sam Hentges, J.C. Mejia, Cal Quantrill, Logan Allen, and Triston McKenzie have all made starts while Zach Plesac, Shane Bieber, and Aaron Civale were recovering from injuries.
Plesac is now back, but the point remains the same.
The Indians had about a one-month stretch where the starting pitching on any given day was totally in question.
If the team falls short of a playoff berth, the “what ifs?” will be plentiful.
2. “Just Not Ready”
The Indians do have some legitimate stars in Bieber and Jose Ramirez.
After that, there are so many questions on the roster.
The same goes for Plesac and Civale, who are still learning the ropes of pitching at the MLB level.
The Indians just develop talent so well it is easy to forget these young players don’t have much experience.
It is clear this team has the raw talent to succeed.
But a lack of experience could mean the front office has already shifted the focus toward 2022.
1. “A Team Of Destiny”
We end with the best-case scenario.
That walk is absolutely unmistakable. 🐐 pic.twitter.com/RGwh1XCpIK
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 13, 2021
The Indians could open the second half on a roll and finish the regular season as American League Central division champions.
Or maybe they sneak into the Wild Card Game and make a run from there.
The 2016 Indians were a ragtag bunch that featured young players stepping up, while veterans assisted in the cause as well.
Perhaps the Indians swing a deal for a veteran to get a Mike Napoli figure back in the clubhouse.
If the Indians cut into the division lead before July 30, a move or two to add a few veteran pieces for cheap should be a no-brainer.
We have seen this team have success before the recent nine-game skid.
The three wins following that drought proved they are a resilient group and there is no reason why we have to rule out a shocking finish to the year.