Do the Guardians have an Emmanuel Clase problem?

Cleveland's All-Star closer has not been good lately

Cleveland Guardians v Minnesota Twins
Cleveland Guardians v Minnesota Twins / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

The first 20 apperances for Emmanuel Clase went about as expected. Once Clase came into the game it was pretty much game over for the opponent. The Guardians closer allowed four runs on 15 hits while striking out 11 and walking five en route to 13 saves. Clase did have three blown saves during that period, but that can happen from time to time. Since that time things have not gone well for Clase.

From May 12 onward Clase has seen those numbers trend in a very concerning direction. In 22 games (21.1 innings) Clase has allowd 12 runs on 22 hits and six walks with 26 strikeouts, leading to four more blown saves. While Clase did complete 11 saves during that span, they have not been easy. The 5.06 ERA and 66% strikes thrown rate is concerning considering those numbers were at 1.86 and 70% over the previous span.

This most recent stretch has been particularly concerning for Cleveland's All-Star closer as he has allowed six runs on six hits in his last 2.1 innings leading to two blown saves. The All-Star break is right around the corner and Clase has been the most heavily used pitcher in the sport with 42 apperances and leads the American League in games finished (34).

It should be mentioned that this is not the first stretch of games that has seen Clase struggle. From May 12-26 he allowed six runs on 12 hits in 5.2 innings with two blown saves and four converted. After that it was 13 straight apperances without allowing a run while allowing just four hits and striking out 17 batters on his way to completing seven saves. So there is some very recent history of Clase bouncing back and being an elite closing option after struggling for a few games.

The upcoming break should provide Clase some much needed rest and allow him to have some time off from his heavy use. Once the second half returns it may be wise to look to other options in non-save situations and make sure not to overuse Clase. The Guardians bullpen cannot really afford to lose Clase or burn him out and everything in their power should be done to prevent that from happening.

So do the Guardians have an Emmanuel Clase problem? Not yet necessarily, but he must be closely monitored and used in a proper fashion to ensure his recent appearances remain an outlier and do not become a problem.