Gavin Williams' setback will test Cleveland Guardians' rotation even further

Cleveland Guardians v San Francisco Giants
Cleveland Guardians v San Francisco Giants / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

It is an understatement to say that the pitching rotation depth of the Cleveland Guardians was already being tested thoroughly. With the loss of Shane Bieber for the year after just two starts, combined with some performances that have not been up to par, the Guardians were hoping that second-year right-hander Gavin Williams could return to the big league roster and help stabilize their rotation. Unfortunately, that is going to have to wait as Williams is dealing with a setback in his recovery. 

Williams is dealing with elbow soreness and is being shut down for a week before returning to throwing, according to a report from The Athletic's Zack Meisel.This is not quite the devastating blow that losing Bieber to Tommy John was, but it is not that far off. Hearing that another Guardians pitcher has an elbow issue is not something that anyone wants to hear. Cleveland will be playing the rest of the year without their Ace (Bieber), and there is already some concern about the sustainability of Triston McKenzie, adding another potential issue into the mix is something to be very worried about. 

All is not lost yet, as there is still a chance that Williams could join the major league rotation sometime later this season. But until that time comes, the Guardians are going to depend on their current starters stepping up to the plate and carrying the load. Ben Lively is off to an impressive start in 2024 and appears to be a hidden gem discovered by the Guardians' front office. Carlos Carrasco has been mostly serviceable, as he allowed just four runs in 13.1 innings across three games before giving up five in Wednesday's loss to Boston. 

What Cleveland needs is McKenzie, Tanner Bibee, and Logan Allen to pitch at the level they have proven to be capable of. Bibee has been the most consistent out of the three but still has a ways to go before getting back to where he was last year. McKenzie and Allen have struggled with inconsistency so far. Reducing the level of variance in their performances is an absolute must if this team is going to keep winning at or near their current rate.

It is going to be about keeping the operation afloat in Cleveland while they are waiting for Williams to make his return. They have shown that they have been able to manage so far, and a large part of that has to do with their offense being much improved over last year's squad. But offense can only carry a team for so long, and at some point, the starting pitching staff will need to pull their weight. If not, a correction in their winning percentage may come, and that could be incredibly damaging to a young team that has come out of the gate on fire to start the year.