The window in the AL Central appears to be opening for the Twins when viewed through the lens of the Indians, but other forces could conspire against the team from the Twin Cities. 

This past offseason, the Indians front office decided to essentially take their offense to a chop shop. They retained two superstars and brought back a guy who had a chance to be a good hitter (and Carlos Santana has been great so far), but that's about it. With one of said superstars being hurt in Francisco Lindor, it's no surprise to see the Indians' following rankings among the 15 AL teams: 

  • Runs: 13th
  • Hits: 15th
  • Home runs: 13th
  • Average: 14th
  • On-base percentage: 14th
  • Slugging percentage: 14th


Factor in now the injury to starting pitcher Mike Clevinger, who was very good in 200 innings last season and looked like an elite ace in two starts this year (12 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 22 K), that might cost him three months. 

Given how well the Indians need to pitch in the rotation to play well as a team and that there isn't an obvious, readily-available rotation replacement, this seems like another opening for the Twins. 

The Twins are looking strong, too. The sit 6-3 after taking two of three from the Indians and two from the Royals to start the season. They lost two of three to the Phillies, but there's really no shame in that. Tuesday night, the Twins put a 14-spot on the Mets for the victory.

Early returns -- extremely early returns -- show the Twins with high offensive upside (third in the AL in OPS at present), high-end back-end bullpen arms like Blake Parker, Taylor Rogers, Trevor May and Trevor Hildenberger. Jose Berrios looks the part of an ace and the rest of the rotation is capable enough, especially with the Indians' offensive woes. 

Then again, here's the top of the AL Central

  1. Indians, 7-3
  2. Twins, 6-3, 0.5 games back

What gives? Well, the Indians have only played the White Sox, Blue Jays and Tigers since dropping the opening series to the Twins and therein lies the rub. The Tigers' 7-3 start before Tuesday's loss notwithstanding, they are a rebuilding team and are going to finish way under .500 this season. That's the case with a good number of American League teams. 

So while the Indians wait to get Lindor and Clevinger back, the Twins are looking to put some separation between the two in the AL Central and the Indians are playing bottom-feeding teams. 

From the Twins' point of view, the only thing they can do is take care of their own business -- which they've been doing -- and win the head-to-head series, which they've already done. Unfortunately, these two teams don't play again until June 4. Lindor's probably back by then. 

In fairness, the two teams play essentially the same schedule throughout the course of the season and divisions should be determined by the best teams, not those who get lucky based upon injuries to the other team. Perhaps this thing stays close and we see them square off toe-to-toe at full strength Sept. 13-15 (the last time they play). That would be fun. 

Regardless, how the Twins and Indians fare with Lindor and Clevinger out is certainly something to watch here in the first two months of the season.