Saying that the Indians are in a rough stretch may just be the understatement of the year. It’s been a miserable, miserable month and a half for Cleveland baseball. This is par for the course for Northeast Ohio sports fans, and we tend to be quite vocal in our complaints. But whining and subjectivity aside, just how bad have things been for the Tribe?
The answer is: Very, very bad. Probably even worse than you’d imagined.
Let’s start with the basics, wins and losses. Since July 8, the Indians are 10-29. That stretch spans 39 games, 13 series, and a full six and a half weeks—almost a third of the season to date.
Nor have the Indians played better than their record. They’ve been outscored 236-135 in that stretch—an average of over a 2.5-run deficit per game. Using Bill James‘ Pythagorean Theorem of Baseball, that works out to an expected winning percentage of .266. Put a team at that pace for 38 games and you get a record of…10-29. (Sound familiar?)
It gets worse. The Indians have actually done fairly well with Justin Masterson on the hill—they’re 5-3 in Masterson’s outings during that stretch despite his 5.55 ERA. Take out those games and the Indians have gone 5-26. That’s a win every six games. At that rate, a team would go 26-136 over a full season. Even the 1962 Mets weren’t that bad.
Okay, but a lot of that is the losing streak. For those who have already repressed the memory, the Indians lost 11 games in a row a couple weeks ago, which obviously doesn’t bode well for a team’s record. But let’s be unreasonably generous and say that the near-fortnight of winlessness is completely irrelevant (it was almost certainly a fluke, but you can’t just pretend it never happened). In that case, the Indians still a poor 10-18 over that stretch. It then goes down to 5-16 if you exclude Masterson’s outings.
The offense has been on hiatus during that stretch. The Indians have averaged just 3.5 runs a game in this miserable stretch. Entering Tuesday they’re hitting .240, they’re barely OBPing .300, and they’ve got a team OPS of .682. Looking at ERA, it’s as though every pitching staff Cleveland has faced—not just every starting pitcher, every full pitching staff—is throwing CC Sabathia for nine innings.
But the biggest culprit has to be pitching. Tribe pitchers enter Tuesday with a 5.53 ERA during this prolonged slump. They’re giving up over six runs a game. Opposing hitter are mashing Cleveland’s staff to the tune of a .288/.366/.473 triple-slash. With an .839 OPS against, it’s like Indians pitchers are turning every batter they face into Shin-Soo Choo.
There are some other depressing numbers in this miserable stretch as well. The Indians are drawing only 2.7 walks per game, down from the 3.7 they were averaging through July 7. Tribe pitchers have a mediocre K/BB ratio of just 1.8. And Cleveland’s defense has allowed 50 stolen bases while catching only three baserunners.
Anyone who’s watched the Indians play or even glanced at a box score over the last month and a half knows that things have been rough for the Tribe, but subjective frustration can’t convey the depth of the plunge like cold hard stats. It’s not a huge sample size and no reasonable person would think this team is really that bad, but these numbers paint a pretty stark pitcher of just how thoroughly this season has fallen apart.