Cleveland Guardians: 3 pitchers who could provide depth to the 2022 rotation

Adam Roberts
Eli Morgan #49 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Eli Morgan #49 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Indians, Eli Morgan
Eli Morgan #49 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

The injury bug was not kind to Cleveland’s starting pitchers in 2021. Here are three potential contributors for the rotation should 2022 be marred by similar health woes.

A full 162 games (or however many we end up getting in 2022) can take their toll on the most stalwart Major League Baseball players. Being a starter in the rotation can be one of the hardest loads to physically handle, with a myriad of different injuries downing pitchers each and every season across the baseball landscape.

Although the Cleveland Indians’ starting rotation looked to be well-stocked going into 2021, things failed to play out as well as hoped due to the injury bug forcing the likes of Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, and Aaron Civale into lengthy trips to the IL.

Coming in to 2022, things seem to be pointing in a positive direction, especially given the breakouts of Cal Quantrill and Triston McKenzie. We have to remember, however, that you can never have too much depth in the starting rotation. Let’s look at a couple of guys who could be crucial to keeping the rotation stocked in the coming season.

Eli Morgan: Experience and Poise

Eli Morgan was called up as the injuries began mounting in 2021. He came up through Cleveland’s system as a starter, journeying from Mahoning Valley in 2017 to Columbus by the start of 2021. His professional debut came on May 28 amidst little fanfare in comparison to recent call-ups (such as Triston McKenzie), and he would be rocked by Mother Nature and a swaggering Toronto Blue Jays lineup boasting the likes of Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien. Even throughout his less-than-stellar pro debut with the Tribe, flashes of potential flickered in Morgan.

A more extended stay with the ball club would start in June, and Morgan would begin to find his footing at the professional level through the summer months. By season’s end, he would pitch 89 1/3 innings to the tune of a 5.34 ERA. Morgan would be victimized by twenty long balls, and would maintain a slightly below-average strikeout rate. He would, however, feature good command and a low walk-rate to boot.

Although the 2021 statistics may not look great on the surface, there is a lot that bodes well for Morgan’s future with Cleveland. Morgan dealt with a couple of rough outings early on, which inflated his ERA as he was getting acclimated to major-league batters. As he accumulated experience, good results would soon follow.

For reference, in the month of September (facing the Red Sox, Brewers, Yankees, and White Sox) Morgan went 2-1 with a 3.27 ERA. He had one bad outing against a surging Milwaukee, but managed to navigate a gauntlet of playoff-bound teams with poise and control.

Morgan was starting to settle into his own as 2021 concluded, and although he likely won’t immediately contribute in 2022, he is a great option as the sixth starter should the Guardians run into any injury quagmires. Having proven himself against major-league hitters and showcasing resilience as he began finding his footing, Morgan looks to be a key contributor for Cleveland at some point in the coming campaign.