Cleveland Indians winning streak

A look at the Cleveland Indians’ historic winning streak

In case you have been living under a rock for the past three weeks, the Cleveland Indians have been the hottest team in baseball with a historic winning streak.

On Wednesday, the Indians won their 21st straight game, breaking the Oakland Athletics’ American League record of 20 straight wins and tying the Chicago Cubs record of 21. Last season the Tribe set a franchise record with 14 straight wins and are looking better than ever this year.

During the streak, the Indians have been putting up video game numbers. They have dominated their opponents with incredible pitching and hitting. They have made it a point to strike first and not look back.

Let’s take a look at some of the numbers behind the Indians’ historic streak.

Lights out pitching

It all starts with pitching on the Indians. They lead all of baseball in ERA, strikeouts, complete games and shutouts, while also throwing the fewest walks.

The pitching has been even more dominant during these last 21 games. The Tribe have posted a 1.67 ERA (1.70 by starters), 193 strikeouts and just 36 walks.

The pitching staff has also posted seven shutouts, which is just as many or more than 18 teams have thrown all season. As stated before, the Indians lead the MLB with 19 shutouts. The Dodgers come in second at 14.

The starting rotation has been outstanding and are led by their ace and Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber. Kluber has pitched in four games during the streak and has gone 4-0 with 35 strikeouts and just two walks in 32 innings pitched. Kluber on the season has a record of 16-4 (tied for most wins in AL) with 243 strikeouts (second) and a 2.44 ERA (first).

Cleveland Indians winning streak

Carlos Carrasco has been one of the Indians’ dominant pitchers during this streak. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Carlos Carrasco has also been dominant during this stretch. Carrasco has gone 3-0 with a 0.62 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched.

Trevor Bauer, who was on the mound when the Indians started this streak, has also been impressive, going 4-0 with a 3.38 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched.

Mike Clevinger has also gotten in on the fun. In his four starts during the streak, he has gone 4-0 with a 0.38 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 23.2 innings pitched.

Cody Allen and the bullpen have also been fantastic closing games out. Allen has picked up six saves and a win in 10 appearances. He has also thrown 13 strikeouts and allowed zero runs off of five hits.

It all starts and ends with the Indians’ pitching. When you are allowing under two runs every nine innings, the bats don’t have to do too much damage. That hasn’t stopped the Indians from putting up runs on the scoreboard though.

Big bats

The Tribe has not been wasting the good pitching they have gotten. They have been contributing plenty on the offensive end as well with a team batting average of .305.

The Indians have been blowing out their opponents with a run differential over 100. The Tribe has outscored their opponents 139-35 over these 21. They have also only trailed in four of the 189 innings they have played. They have been taking the lead early in the game as they have scored first in 19 of the 21 wins. They have also outscored opponents 68-13 in the first three innings.

It all starts with Francisco Lindor. The switch-hitting shortstop and leadoff man has hit .370 and leads the Indians in hits (30), runs (19), home runs (nine) and RBIs (19). Lindor also hit his 30th home run of the season on Tuesday, which is the most by a shortstop 23 years or younger since Alex Rodriguez hit 42 during the 1999 season as a 23-year-old.

Cleveland Indians winning streak

Jose Ramirez has been proving his case for American League MVP. (Photo by Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

Lindor made league and team history with the mark. He joined Hal Trosky and Manny Ramirez as the only players 23 years old or younger to hit 30-plus homers in Indians history. It also tied Jimmy Rollins and Jose Valentin for the most home runs by a switch-hitting shortstop in baseball history.

Speaking of home runs, the Indians have hit 41 home runs during this streak, opposed to 35 runs allowed by the pitching staff. You read that right. 41 home runs hit and 35 runs allowed in 21 games.

Lindor isn’t the only one hitting with fire power. Edwin Encarnacion has hit five homers in this stretch and 34 on the season. Carlos Santana has also hit five of his 23 homers during this streak. Jay Bruce has only hit two during the streak while missing eight games, but also has 34 on the year.

Jose Ramirez has hit eight during the streak and 26 total. Ramirez has been quietly putting up an MVP-caliber season with a .309 batting average, 73 RBIs, 48 doubles and 80 extra-base hits.

Comparison to the A’s and Cubs

How does the Tribe stack up against the last team to win 20-straight games?

Through 20, the Indians posted a 1.60 ERA, .942 OPS and a 102 run differential. The A’s posted a 2.65 ERA, .885 OPS and a 76 run differential.

The A’s went on to finish their season with a 103-59 record and won the AL West. However, they lost the division series to the Minnesota Twins 3-2.

The Chicago Cubs won 21 straight games back in 1935. They finished the year with a 100-54 record, but lost in the World Series to the Detroit Tigers 4-2.

The New York Giants have the record for most straight games without a loss. They won 26 games and had a tie after the 12th win back in 1916. They finished fourth place in the National League that year.

All these teams got hot during the regular season, but couldn’t translate it to a World Series trophy. Even the Los Angeles Dodgers, who started this season off hot, have lost 16 of their last 18 games. They went from a 91-36 record to a 93-52 record. It is still impressive, but they have gone incredibly cold.

Cleveland Indians winning streak

Ryan Merritt has been one of the many Indians to step up and perform when needed. (Photo by Getty Images)

Another impressive thing to note about the Indians’ streak is that they have won all these games without stars like Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Andrew Miller and Danny Salazar. Brantley hasn’t played since Aug. 8 due to an ankle injury. Kipnis has been out since Aug. 23 after reaggrivating a hamstring injury. Miller hasn’t pitched since Aug. 21 due to a knee injury. Salazar returned last week after missing 17 games due to an elbow injury, but only for limited action. The team said he will be coming out of the bullpen the rest of the season.

Rookie center fielder Bradley Zimmer also went down this week with a hand injury and could miss the rest of the season.

Despite all these injuries, the Indians have had many young players step up. Yandy Diaz, Giovanny Urshela, Greg Allen, Erik Gonzalez and Ryan Merritt have all stepped up when needed and helped the Indians continue their elite play.

The Indians are also chasing home field advantage for the World Series as this is the first season in a while in which the winner of the All-Star Game does not get home field advantage. It will be determined by record, and the Indians are currently 3.5 games behind the Dodgers for home field advantage.

The Indians of course are playing for something bigger than a winning streak or even home field advantage. They are looking for redemption after losing the World Series to the Cubs last year after having a 3-1 lead.

It is a long season. A lot can happen in a 21-game stretch. Teams enjoy hot and cold spurts. Will the Indians continue to stay hot? Only time will tell.


Featured image by Getty Images

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Has Ryan Merritt Earned a Start in the World Series?

The Indians pulled out the win in Game 5 of the ALCS, moving on to the World Series and earning some much needed rest while awaiting the result of the Dodgers vs. Cubs series. Vegas expected the Blue Jays to win Game 5. The team had their stud, Marco Estrada, going up against a rookie who had only ever made one start in the majors prior to Game 5. Yet, it was Ryan Merritt who had the last laugh, as he helped secure the Indians a berth to the World Series for the first time since 1997.

All eyes were on Ryan Merritt leading up to the first pitch. Jose Bautista, infamous for his bat flip in the 2015 ALCS, was quoted as saying Merritt would be “shaking in his boots” more than the Jays would, come game time. Bautista went 3-18 (.167 BA) in the ALCS so he had little room to talk. Merritt, however, looked anything but nervous through his 4 1/3 innings pitched.

Division Series - Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays - Game Five

Never been one to shy away from confrontation, Jose Bautista calling out Ryan Merrett may not have been a smart move after all. Photo courtesy of

Ryan Merritt was a bit of an unknown in the national media spotlight. The man had just made one start previously in four appearances for the major league club this season. Ranked 29th in the Indians farm system, Merritt had pretty average numbers at Triple A Columbus this season, posting an 11-8 record with a 3.7 ERA. Merritt had low strikeout numbers, only 92 k’s in 143 1/3 innings, and accumulated a 1.25 WHIP over the sample size.

What these minor league numbers point out is that Merritt is (was?) projected to be a potential 5th starter or long arm in the bullpen, nothing really more, especially for a staff as potent as the Tribes. Yet, Merritt put up stats in Game 5 that show the composure of a wily MLB veteran.


Ryan Merritt pitched like a pro, battling through the whole Jays lineup before giving up a hit. Photo courtesy of Mark Blinch of the AP

Merritt was pulled after giving up a hit with one out in the fifth. In 4 1/3 innings pitched, Merritt accumulated 3 k’s and only two hits (including the aforementioned one that led to him being pulled). It may not look like much, but in a game where manager Terry Francona had a rested Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, four innings is all that was needed from Merritt. Merritt did not just put up impressive stats, however, he did a good job passing the eye test on the mound.

Merritt pitched like he had been in the league for years and exhibited plenty of control, especially in his fastball. He challenged hitters on both sides of the plate, freezing veteran hitters like Josh Donaldson with his inside corner fastball. Most importantly, and most fundamental, Merritt was throwing first pitch strikes. All through little league, it is pounded in young pitcher’s heads to keep it in the strike zone, get ahead in the count, and throw the junk with two strikes. Fangraphs goes deeper into the analysis, but the point is, the man can be counted on to give you a handful of solid innings.

That being said, if Trevor Bauer’s hand heals by Game 3 of the World Series, does he get sat in favor of Merritt? The decision is tough, but Bauer deserves the spot in the rotation come World Series. That is, only if the hand is truly healed. Game 3 of the ALCS led to Francona having to use way too many relievers for a playoff game to cover Bauer and his bleeding hand. The young pitcher will slot in nicely in this bullpen for now, in case Bauer cannot go. He gives Francona just another arm to rely on for the middle to late innings.

Ryan Merritt put up a memorable performance, so much so, that Indians fans are clamoring to pay for items on his wedding registry. Forever embedded in Indians folklore now, it will be interesting to see what Terry Francona does with the rotation this World Series? Is Bauer’s hand truly healed enough to give him a start? Would Francona be willing to go to a four man rotation just to give Merritt a start? The upcoming days will provide the answers as Game 1 of the World Series looms October 25th.


All stats courtesy of baseball reference.