Emmanuel Clase named American League Reliever of the Month

Washington Nationals v Cleveland Guardians
Washington Nationals v Cleveland Guardians / Nick Cammett/GettyImages
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Flat-out dominant. That is the best way to describe how Cleveland Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase pitched last month. Clase finished May with just four hits allowed, 14 strikeouts compared to just one walk, nine saves, and a perfect 0.00 ERA in 13 appearances. With numbers like this, it is no wonder why Clase was named the American League Reliever of the Month for his performance.

Clase held opponents to a .093/.133/.093 in 13 innings of work while throwing 72% of 170 pitches for strikes. Filling up the strike zone at this rate will make it difficult for any batter to find success, and it is no surprise that very few have found it.

2024 has proven to be the bounce-back campaign for Clase that everyone was hoping for. There were some very valid concerns regarding his performance as the Guardians' closer last season. Even though Clase was the MLB leader in saves last year with 44, his second consecutive season doing so, he also finished 2023 with the most blown saves (12). It is hard to put trust in a player who is not able to hold on to a lead in the 9th, making it even more difficult for a team that was having a hard time scoring enough runs and winning games last season.

This season, Clase has an American League-leading 18 saves to go along with a sparking 0.31 ERA and 0.614 WHIP, with a 29 to two strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Guardians were right to fully entrust Clase with game-closing duties, and it is paying dividends. Even though Clase does have three blown saves to his name this season, it would still be around half of last season's total if it continues at his current usage rate. Seeing Clase cut his blown save number in half when compared to last year would be a huge improvement, with his rebound performance this season possibly being a big reason why a deep playoff run could be in the mix for the Guardians season once the regular season comes to an end.