The Cleveland Guardians have been one of the best teams in the majors over the last three-plus months. The Guardians, who were five games under .500 through the first 43 games, have gone 61-44 since May 29. Cleveland owns a 4.0-game lead over the Chicago White Sox and 7.0 game edge over the Minnesota Twins with 15 games remaining in the regular season.
As of right now, it appears that the AL Central will only get the division winner into the playoffs as the Tampa Bay Rays (81-64) and Seattle Mariners (80-64) hold the final two wild card spots, and both have a better record than the Guardians (80-67). Kansas City and Detroit have been eliminated from playoff contention. Can the Guardians capture their first divisional title in four years?
Pitching has been the biggest reason that Cleveland has turned its season around. The Guardians have allowed three or fewer runs in eight of their last 15 games. Their pitching staff has the major’s third-lowest ERA (3.08) and WHIP (1.09) post-all-star break.
Cleveland has been playing well lately, winning 10 of its last 12, and is 34-23 in the second half of the campaign. The Guardians hit the road to face the Chicago White Sox after taking four of five from the Minnesota Twins over the weekend. The Guardians defeated the Twins 11-4 on Monday and outscored them 27-17 over the five games, and won the season series 13-6.
Cleveland heads to Chicago to face the White Sox in a critical series that will go a long way to determine the division winner. The Guardians have a 9-7 edge over the Sox in the season series. Cleveland will send Aaron Civale, Triston McKenzie, and Shane Bieber to the hill against the Sox.
Cleveland then heads to Texas for three games. They conclude the season with nine straight home contests against the Rays (3) and Royals (6).
Chicago White Sox
Chicago (76-71) has also played well lately, winning 8 of its last 11 after defeating Detroit 11-5 on Sunday. The White Sox are 30-25 since the all-star break.
The White Sox have the best chance of catching the Guardians for the top spot in the Central. However, I am not sure the Chisox have the pitching depth to keep pace, even if they sweep or win two of three against Cleveland. The Sox will send Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, and Lucas Giolito to the mound against the Guardians.
After Cleveland, Chicago hosta Detroit for three games. They then close the season out with nine challenging games versus the Padres (3) and Twins (6)
Minnesota (73-74) has really put themselves behind the proverbial eight-ball by losing the weekend series to the White Sox. The Twins have also really struggled at the plate in the second half of the season, where the Twins are 23-32. To have any chance at the division title, the Twins will need to rectify their offensive woes and have some major help along the way.