Over the past two months your Cleveland Guardians have quietly added to their arsenal of pitching depth. In an ideal world, the injury-riddled 2023 season is something we won't have to endure for the foreseeable future. But if 2024 shapes up similarly to prior seasons, there will at least be some in-house available arms to fill the gaps.
It's no secret that the pitching depth last season was taxed. The rookie quartet of Tanner Bibee, Gavin Williams, Logan Allen, and Xzavion Curry were not expected to contribute the levels at which they did.
To potentially mitigate a repeat scenario this season, Jaime Barria, Ben Lively, Carter Spivey, Rorik Maltrud, Tyler Beede, and fan-favorite Carlos Carassco have all been added on minor-league deals. Each has starting experience on their resume, but Barria, Spivey, and Maltrud have evolved more into pen arms in recent years. It's foolish to assume that any of these additions will compete for a Cy Young, but as Tito always said, "When you think you have enough pitching, go and get more."
Barria is two years removed from being a dominant long man; that 2022 season saw him post a 2.61 ERA over 79.1 IP with a 154 ERA+. It's conceivable for Barria to slot into that long-man role, especially if the club is required to rely on Curry or Hunter Gaddis to start any number of games.
Both Carter Spivey and Rorik Maltrud were college free agents. Spivey was college teammates with Gavin Williams and was also named the 2022 American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year. Meanwhile, Maltrud racked up 150 strikeouts over 136.2 college innings.
Lively has shown himself to be a capable spot starter, though the results have varied. If there is one silver lining, removing his start on August 1 last season - one which saw him go only four innings and surrender 13 runs - over his other 11 starts in 2023, Lively finished with a 3-5 record in 61.2 innings with 60 strikeouts, a 3.94 ERA, and .246 average against.
Former first-round selection Tyler Beede joined the club after underachieving with both the Giants and Pirates. Beede spent last season in Japan, where he primarily worked from a pen role, and
has seen his velocity improve from 94.6 mph up to 97 mph.
Most recently, the Guardians made it official and have brought back Carrasco. If he can replicate even his 2020 or 2022 seasons, then Carrasco could be a force. At the very least, the reunion will be fun for the fans, and any contributions to the big-league club will be all the more special.
Additionally, the Guardians have signed a slew of bullpen arms, but with much of the pen already locked in, and other additional in-house options, it seems highly unlikely that any will have any meaningful contribution to the big-league club.
Dating back to 2018, the club has used seven (2018), 12 (2019), eight (2020), 11 (2021), 12 (2022), and 14 (2023) starters. Removing the 2020 season, that's over 11 pitchers on average; some of the above listed will be called upon this season, and hopefully it's only for the occasional spot start. However, the sentiment remains: It's never a bad idea to have too much pitching.