Breaking down Tribe's tiebreaker scenarios
CLEVELAND — Six days ago, the Indians snapped an eight-game losing streak — a skid that caused them to fall from the top of the postseason standings to the bottom. But now that the Tribe has clinched a playoff berth, it’s not impossible for the club to climb back up
CLEVELAND — Six days ago, the Indians snapped an eight-game losing streak — a skid that caused them to fall from the top of the postseason standings to the bottom. But now that the Tribe has clinched a playoff berth, it’s not impossible for the club to climb back up in the rankings.
The most likely scenario is that the Indians would hold on to the top American League Wild Card spot (the No. 7 seed), which would match them up against the team that finishes as the second overall seed. In order for Cleveland to move up in the rankings, it would have to shift into one of the top two spots in the AL Central. With two games remaining against the White Sox and five games left in the regular season, it’s still possible.
• Here’s how tiebreakers will be handled in 2020
How close this division race has become with less than a week remaining in the season raises the question: What happens if there’s a tie?
If the Indians ended in a two-team tie for either first or second place in the division, the first tiebreaker would be the head-to-head record between the two teams. The Indians have already secured a winning record over the White Sox this year, but they would lose the tiebreaker to the Twins, having lost seven of 10 games.
But what if there’s a three-way tie? If the Twins, White Sox and Indians are all knotted at the top of the division leaderboard on Sunday, the tiebreaker becomes each team’s best combined record against the other two clubs. In this case, the Twins would take first place, the Indians would take second and the Sox would earn an AL Wild Card spot.
How? The Twins have gone 12-8 against Chicago and Cleveland this year, which would give them the edge should this scenario arise. The White Sox and Indians still have two games remaining against each other. At best, the Tribe would end the year 11-9 against the two teams, which still trails Minnesota. At worst, Cleveland would end in a tie with the White Sox (who are currently 7-11) at 9-11. In that case, the second tiebreaker would go back to head-to-head records, which would mean the Indians would earn the second seed and the Sox would drop to an AL Wild Card spot.
Entering Wednesday, the Indians sat three games behind the White Sox and 2 1/2 games behind the Twins in the AL Central. Moving up the leaderboard would give the Tribe a chance to host the first round of the playoffs before the AL Division and Championship Series are played in Southern California.
Tito to enter bubble
The Indians do not expect manager Terry Francona to get back in the dugout before the regular season ends on Sunday, but he will enter the bubble on Wednesday with the Tribe so that he may still be an option in the postseason.
“He continues to recover,” Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. “He will be in the bubble with us, so he’ll be in the quarantine. That preserves as many options for us as possible moving forward, and then also gives Tito an opportunity to be around the team, even if it’s not in the dugout.”
Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.