The 2022 starting rotation is already set for the Cleveland Indians / Cleveland Guardians and it’s looking promising.
The Cleveland Indians have struggled during the 2021 season in a way that we really haven’t witnessed since 2012. The team is on the brink of finishing below .500 for the first time during the Terry Francona era and a large part of the team’s hardships boils down to the starting pitching.
Over the last couple seasons the Tribe has essentially traded away an entire starting rotation, dealing Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco who served as the core of the team for the last few years. With the goal to save money and build for the future obvious, these came with little shock, however, it left the team in an interesting place.
The emergence of Shane Bieber originally completed the rotation in Cleveland, but injuries to others opened the door for fellow 2016 MLB Draftees Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac. With both Civale and Plesac showing signs of growth, the opportunity to make a big change in the rotation was present. The only problem was that two spots were still uncertain and injuries killed the club this year.
With questionable starting pitching in the backend of the rotation at the beginning of the year, Cleveland was already using Bieber, Civale and Plesac at high rates. Each outing was expected to nearly go the distance to save the bullpen for the other two starters. Then, the injuries started piling up and it was the beginning of the end to Cleveland’s season.
With a starting rotation that not even Lou Brown could coach or be proud of, Cleveland’s season seemed destined to be deadline sellers to cut more payroll and prepare for the future. And that’s exactly what happened. The young rotation couldn’t keep up and the season slowly died. However, there is a positive out of all of this.
Given the length of opportunities for the pitchers that were called on to fill out the rotation, Cleveland has a rather clear answer to what the starting rotation will look like in 2022. In fact, there might have to be a competition to fill the final spot, but in a good way as multiple pitchers are showing potential. It isn’t like this year where the team is searching for an arm, but instead they will be deciding which one is better.
So while this season hurt to watch when it came to starting pitching, it might be all for the better because it’s setting the stage for the next great Cleveland rotation at the start of the 2022 season.