Now that we’ve crossed over the unofficial Memorial Day checkpoint of the season, are the Cleveland Guardians the team we all pretty much expected them to be?
We’ve finally made it to the unofficial start of summer. Memorial Day has come and gone, and we are past the 40-game mark (aka quarterway mark) of the MLB season. Oh, and by the way, the Cleveland Guardians are floating around .500.
Okay, so not great, but also not bad. This got me to thinking, though, which sometimes can be bad, but I swear in this instance it’s good.
Over the past two weeks, there have been similar pieces written, but Jim Ingraham – formally of the Lake County News-Herald and Elyria Telegraph and now writing for Forbes Sports – put out a great piece on this year’s squad. The headline: “The Cleveland Guardians Are More Interesting Than Good, But That Could Change.”
Then this statistic started floating around: The average age of batters in the Triple-A International League is 26.5 years old, while the average age for pitchers is 27.2 years old. The Guardians’ averages are 26.2 for batters, and 26.6 for pitchers. Yes, you read that correctly – our squad is younger than the average International League team.
A Look at the Guardians Pitching Staff
The starting pitching appears to be regaining its form in the past few weeks as well. That is so key for this team. We all thought the rotation would carry the Guardians, and early in the season there were some things that led to a lot of concern. Maybe it was the shortened spring training, maybe it was the less-than-ideal weather, maybe it was a little of both.
And while we’re talking about the starting pitching, can we just pause for a second and take a quick glance at the pipeline (some of whom we have seen a bit of already):
Eli Morgan, Konnor Pilkington, Peyton Battenfield, Tobias Meyers, Daniel Espino (#2 prospect – ETA 2023), Gavin Williams (#7 prospect – ETA 2024), Logan T. Allen (#8 prospect – ETA 2022), and Tanner Burns (#11 prospect – ETA 2023). Now, there’s a good chance a few of these guys get moved in a trade, end up in the bullpen, or simply don’t live up to expectations, but wow, this is truly an embarrassment of riches (at least on paper).
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the current bullpen construction as well, as it’s really taking shape. Closer Emmanuel Clase, Trevor Stephan, Nick Sandlin, Sam Hentges, Enyel De Los Santos, and the aforementioned Morgan are seamlessly falling into roles and filling them nicely. Sure, some may move to different roles at some point, but for the time being, they are all contributing and the future is looking bright there. The numbers speak for themselves, as the bullpen currently has the fifth-best ERA in all of the majors.
How About the Guardians Offense?
We knew some of the core position players before the season started, but dare I suggest that more are starting to come into focus? First, the no-brainers: José Ramírez, Franmil Reyes (DH is a stretch but whatever), and Myles Straw. Josh Naylor was a borderline candidate heading into the season, and not to get ahead of myself, but he should be a strong candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. There are also cases to be made for Owen Miller, Andrés Giménez, and Steven Kwan. It’s only been a handful of games, but Oscar Gonzalez is sure fun too, huh?
Maybe we see the likes of Gabriel Arias, Nolan Jones, Tyler Freeman, and Bryan Lavastida again before the season ends. Then again, maybe one or two of these guys gets dealt as part of a package for a proven bat.
One last thing, too. Words cannot do enough justice to convey how ecstatic we should all be that Ramírez is in Cleveland for the long haul. I know we have covered it extensively here on the site, but it bears repeating: the man is the heart and soul of this team. He’s this era’s Victor Martinez, Jim Thome, or Brook Jacoby. He will be beloved forever and ever by this fan base, and one day, the team will build a statue in his honor (maybe even while he’s still playing), and it will be glorious.
So, to wrap up my thoughts, maybe this team isn’t 100% where we want them to be right now. But we have plenty of summer left, so get on board, it’s going to be fun! There are a lot of questions, but like we’ve been saying all along, we’re going to get plenty of answers here this season too.