Cleveland Guardians offseason outlook: starting rotation
Guardians Rotation Locks
Three starters provided stability and excellence throughout 2022 and should be viewed as locks to lead the rotation again in 2023 barring a blockbuster trade.
27-year-old ace Shane Bieber remade himself somewhat in 2022. Bieber was an All-Star in 2019 and 2021, and a Cy Young winner in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, when he led the league in strikeouts, wins and ERA.
This year, pitching with decreased velocity and a career-low strikeout rate, Bieber led the American League with 200 innings pitched, providing stability and dependability at the front of baseball’s youngest rotation. He finished with a 13-8 record and 2.88 ERA, winning his first Gold Glove Award. Expect trade whispers to continue as his salary continues to increase via arbitration, but also realize that the Guardians have shown a willingness to keep core players around in order to remain competitive, and the dependable excellence of Bieber will be hard to replace via trade, and impossible to replace at a similar cost through free agency.
Triston McKenzie continued to develop in his third season, showing why he was twice ranked as the Guardians' top prospect. He finished 11-11 with a 2.96 ERA in 191 1/3 innings pitched and finished with the highest strikeout rate of any of Cleveland’s regular starters. At just 24 years old, he still has room for improvement in 2023, when he will likely make the jump to become the Guardians’ ace.
Also 27 years old, Cal Quantrill added dependability and stability for the Guardians as a mid-rotation starter. He finished 15-5 with a 3.38 ERA and threw 186 1/3 innings. Quantrill relies heavily on his defense, with just a 6.2 K/9, which makes him more valuable to the Guardians than to other teams. He is not likely to dominate but is perfectly suited as a mid-rotation starter for a playoff-caliber team.