The All-Star break is here and the Cleveland Guardians are sitting atop the American League Central Division. This is despite dropping their final game against the Kansas City Royals after winning the first three contests between the two clubs. Cleveland also got some help in the form of the Minnesota Twins losing three straight games to the Baltimore Orioles to close out their first half.
Cleveland dug themselves quite a hole early in the year and have been scratching and clawing their way back. In fact, the Guardians went 69 games between being above .500, even though the loss drops them back to level at 45-45 on the year. Even though they are back at .500, they still hold a slight half game lead over the Twins and that is still a good spot to be in heading into the break.
The journey for Clevleand to get where they are now has not been easy. The Guardians demoted pitchers James Karinchak and Zach Plesac due to poor performance. Cleveland's front office admitted their mistake in signing catcher MIke Zunino, ultimately deciding to release him.
It has not been all bad as the team has sorted through underperforming major leaguers in order to call up some highly regarded prospects. Prospects including Tanner Bibee, Bo Naylor, and Gavin Williams which are clearly big part of their future. While Bibee and Williams will have to be managed carefully later in the season, they have been big time contributors when the team needed them most. Cleveland's pitching rotation has dealt with a few injuries this season and these rookie hurlers have showed composure well beyond their years.
There is still plenty of work to do for this team as they are far from a finished product. The front office's approach to the trade deadline remains a mystery as they could really go in any direction. An all out selloff seems highly unlikely with their recent ascension, but a combo of trading for and away current major league players may be the most likely path forward. They have managed to take over the division lead with this incomplete version of their roster and it would not be a surprise to see moves that satisfy short-term and long-term needs.
For now it is best to enjoy the fact that the Cleveland Guardians are back in their rightful place, looking down on the rest of the American League Central.