7 starting pitchers the Cleveland Guardians should target at the trade deadline

The Cleveland Guardians are consistently ranking among the top teams in baseball and lead the AL Central, but starting pitching woes will need to be addressed by Cleveland at the trade deadline.
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Colorado Rockies v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages
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The Cleveland Guardians are currently one of just three teams in the American League and one of just five in all of Major League Baseball, with a winning percentage north of .600. Cleveland has shocked many to start the season, and while a recent bump in the road has dropped their record slightly, they are still among the top teams in all of baseball.

This has come despite a rarity in Cleveland, struggles with starting pitching. Injuries aren't uncommon for the Guardians' pitching staff, but the Cleveland Pitching Factory hasn't been able to keep production on pace with demand. For the first time in a long time, Cleveland is in need of starting pitching and doesn't have the internal resources to solve the problem.

As a staff, Cleveland still has the seventh-best ERA in baseball. However, when isolated, the starting pitchers for Cleveland rank 19th in ERA, while the bullpen leads the MLB and not by a small margin. Cleveland's bullpen clocks in with an ERA of 2.41, while the next best is the Dodgers' 3.15.

When talking about quality starts, the story doesn't get much better. Cleveland's "leaders" in the stat are Logan Allen and Tanner Bibee, each with just four. That's tied for 81st in all of baseball. Paul Skenes has more, with five, and he's only been up since May 11. As a team, Cleveland has just 18 on the season, and two of those belong to Shane Bieber.

Needless to say, starting pitching is a concern for Cleveland. Now, getting Gavin Williams back will be a nice boost. He was expected to be a catalyst for the club and his absence has been felt. He's working through a rehab assignment, and should return to Cleveland in short time. However, even with him back, Cleveland is still far from a full rotation.

In addition to Williams, the aforementioned Bibee, Allen, and Triston McKenzie are the best bets, but they are far from locked in. McKenzie has gone seven innings just once this year and hasn't completed six in over a month. Allen has a 7-3 record, but it's paired with an ERA of 5.30, and he's allowing opposing hitters to bat .287. As for Carlos Carrasco and Ben Lively, they could be, and should be, replaced.

I've already talked about five players the Cleveland Guardians could deal at the deadline for a starting pitcher, but what would the return be? Obviously, contract will be a factor, both in terms of length and value, as will the team's standing and willingness to deal. Could these seven players meet the criteria for Cleveland to make a move?