Cleveland Guardians way-too-early 2022 Opening Day starting rotation projection
Entering the 2021 season the rotation in Cleveland was a bit of a question mark for the first time in a long time. The team had the Big Three from the 2016 MLB Draft class, but the final two spots were as unknown as the team’s next team name at the time. Now, we’re as certain about the starting five for 2022, at least to start the season, as we are that the Cleveland Guardians will take the field next season.
While injuries to the rotational all but doomed Cleveland’s chances in 2021, those same injuries opened the door for discovering the final two spots in the 2022 rotation. With all five spots being used by prospects, it essentially became an open audition for most of the season and luckily two names stood out to separate themselves from the masses.
Once the other three returned to full strength to close out the season, we saw a glimpse of what could be the future of the team’s starting rotation. There will still be some road bumps, but the overall outlook is much more promising now than it has been in the past.
Shane Bieber, SP, Cleveland Guardians
Anytime a team can anchor the starting rotation with a Cy Young winner it’s a good sign, especially when that pitcher has collected the award within the last couple seasons. That’s exactly what Shane Bieber provides Cleveland at the top of the rotation.
The 2021 season was rough for Bieber. He missed a large chunk due to injury, but his strengths are still present. He still managed to average 12.5 strikeouts per nine and kept a respectable 3.17 ERA. It might not have been his 2020 campaign, but it was still strong.
The 2020 season for Bieber was something of legend. He became the first starting pitcher ever to average over 14 strikeouts per nine and also logged the lowest ERA in the game at 1.63. Now, sustaining that over a full season is a tall order, but Bieber has the potential to come close.
If he can remain healthy, Bieber should once again lead Cleveland’s rotation in 2022. Chances of anyone challenging him for the top spot seems slim, but if that’s the case then Cleveland will be just fine next season in the starting rotation.