CLEVELAND — Indians fans, please tell me you’re not worried. Tell me your team’s mediocre start doesn’t have you all hot and bothered.
Do you know multiple people on Twitter — not even three months in — have told me the season is over and the Indians (stink)? Do you know those people are insane?
Sure, the Indians haven’t begun the year in ideal fashion but, c’mon, we’re not even to the All-Star break and they’re in first place after sweeping Central Division foe Minnesota in a doubleheader Saturday at Target Field.
The season is not over. And, at least I think, the Indians don’t (stink).
Have they played like the defending American League champions? No, but in baseball, unless you lose your first 30 games, it doesn’t really matter. And how you play in April, May and June — again, unless deplorably — doesn’t really matter, either.
If you have postseason contention intentions — which I believe we can agree the Indians do — it’s how you play at the end of the season and into October.
I’m pretty sure that’s how the reigning world champion Chicago Cubs are viewing it after pulling into Saturday owning a 33-33 record and 2½-game deficit in the NL Central.
So quit sweating it, Tribe fans. Much like the Cubs, the Indians are going to win the Central Division and qualify for the postseason.
They’re going to accomplish as much because they’re by far the most talented team in the division, with a Cy Young ace in Corey Kluber and an elite slugger in Edwin Encarnacion, who is just starting to flex the power-muscle pose to his new fans.
They’re going to accomplish as much because the first extended slump of shortstop Francisco Lindor’s career isn’t going to derail his path to mega stardom. Lindor hit a bunch of home runs early and got pull-happy. That’s not going to continue.
They’re going to accomplish as much because left fielder Michael Brantley is healthy and on the path to finding his MVP-finalist form.
They’re going to accomplish as much because they have one of the best lineups in the AL, whether some of those players — second baseman Jason Kipnis, first baseman Carlos Santana, third baseman Jose Ramirez, etc. — are acting like it or not right now.
They’re going to accomplish as much because they have one of the best bullpens in the majors — the one area that has fulfilled expectations thus far, though fans still love to complain about setup man Bryan Shaw and closer Cody Allen.
They’re going to accomplish as much because their rotation, now that Kluber is back and Carlos Carrasco is pitching like an ace-in-waiting, will begin to live up to expectations as one of the best starting staffs in the league.
They’re going to accomplish as much because, if they don’t do the aforementioned, the front office will find a frontline addition at the trading deadline and owner Paul Dolan will sign off because he knows the window of opportunity is open.
They will accomplish as much because they are a better team — bottom line. No disrespect to Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis, but the Indians are just fine without them.
And when they do accomplish as much, don’t count them out. Have you learned nothing from 2016, when the underdog Indians won 10 of their first 12 postseason games en route to a 3-1 World Series lead over the Cubs?
Listen, I’m not saying Tribe fans should be all giddy over their team’s lackluster start. The Indians haven’t been very good in a whole lot of departments, inconsistent in others and so on and so on.
Still, the season isn’t over.
It’s way too early to count them out and ruin what could be an enjoyable ride and fantastic final stop.