Cleveland Guardians plan to open season with starting rotation drafted and developed from within

The Cleveland Guardians are known for being a pitching factory, and 2024 could prove to be the most stark example of that moniker.

Texas Rangers v Cleveland Guardians
Texas Rangers v Cleveland Guardians / Ron Schwane/GettyImages

The Cleveland Guardians have earned the reputation of being a pitching factory over the years, and the 2024 season might prove to be their magnum opus.

Assuming the health of everyone going into the season, the Guardians are looking to feature a starting rotation of players all drafted by Cleveland and developed within the organization: Shane Bieber (drafted in 2016), Triston McKenzie (2015), Gavin Williams (2021), Tanner Bibee (2021), and Logan Allen (2020).

Will Cleveland's Pitching Carry the Guardians to the Playoffs in 2024?

It's pretty incredible to see what Cleveland continues to be able to do in its pitching development. And, once again, if the Guardians are going to make any noise in the AL Central in 2024, they're going to need the rotation to stay healthy.

Unlike last year, there aren't a ton of high-profile pitchers in the minors ready to just step right in like Williams, Bibee, and Allen did last year. That's not to take away from the talent coming up through the system (hello, Joey Cantillo), but it would be unfair to expect that kind of depth each and every year. Eventually, the Guardians are going to need their rotation to stay relatively healthy, especially at the top.

Consistent pitching development is one of the key reasons the Guardians have remained one of the best teams in the American League since 2013, culminating in that 2016 World Series run. While the team continues to revamp and reassess its offensive identity, the hope is that the pitching continues to be the reliable, rock-solid foundation on which they can rely.

Here are the two biggest question marks as to whether that can happen:

Can Bieber and McKenzie stay healthy?

The prospects of this feel dim considering the injury histories of both starters at this point. But this also presents an opportunity for both pitchers to prove the doubters wrong. Bieber made 21 starts last season and McKenzie only made four, with both seasons cut short by injury. If the Guardians can get at least 20-25 starts out of both of them, that would be a big win for the staff.

How will the young pitchers perform in their sophomore seasons?

While Williams, Bibee, and Allen excelled in their rookie seasons, their sophomore campaigns will be even more challenging. Opposing teams now have something of a book on these starters, and it'll be up to each of them to continue their development. That might not come without some growing pains.

If the Guardians are going to compete for the AL Central in 2024, the pitching rotation - even more than the much-talked-about and evolving offense - will be the most important factor.