The Cleveland Guardians made a major roster move ahead of their series finale with the Tampa Bay Rays. Josh Naylor has been activated off the injured list, while the team optioned outfielder Oscar Gonzalez to Triple-A Columbus.
This is a move that could not have been timed better for the Guardians. Cleveland is currently fighting to remain in the mix for the American League Central division title as they trail the Minnesota Twins by 5 games entering Sunday. The Guardians have been able to keep pace with Minnesota by taking the first two games of their current series with the Tampa Bay Rays, as the Twins accomplished the same against the Texas Rangers.
The main focus should be the upcoming series with the Twins beginning Monday. Cleveland needs to find a way to at least take two of three from Minnesota to cut into their division lead. The Guardians have found themselves channeling their Guardiac Kids magic from last year lately, and the hope is that it can carry over into the upcoming week.
The elder Naylor has been one of the best hitters for the Guardians this season. Despite appearing in only 96 games this season, Naylor leads the team in runs batted in (79), second in home runs with 15, and his 25 doubles rank third. On one hand, this is impressive, considering how much time he has missed, but on the other, it speaks volumes about the Guardians' hitters struggling to do much of anything this season.
In regards to Gonzalez, this move seems like a long time coming. While Gonzalez has been better in his second go around with the big league club this season, he has been far from good. The 25-year-old outfielder has struck out in 30 of his 100 plate appearances and 16 times in his last 34. When Gonzalez did register a hit, they were not going for extra bases. 15 of his 22 hits since July 27th have been singles. It is incredibly hard to justify giving further playing time to a player with a .597 OPS who strikes out as frequently as he does.