The Cleveland Guardians must prioritize adding a starting pitcher via trade

Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Guardians
Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Guardians / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

50 games into 2024, and the Cleveland Guardians have put together one of the best starts in all of baseball. Sitting atop the American League Central division with a 33-17 record, Cleveland is fresh off back-to-back series sweeps to finish off their most recent homestand with a perfect 6-0 record. As the Guardians continue their bounce-back campaign after last year's disappointing season, they are no doubt going to be buyers at the trade deadline. As exciting as the prospect of adding a talented bat such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would be, there is a much more pressing issue that needs to be taken care of first. Starting pitching. 

The Guardians are currently down three members of their starting rotation. Gavin Williams is yet to debut in 2024, Shane Bieber was lost to a season-ending injury after two starts, and Carlos Carrasco was recently sidelined with a neck injury. While they have managed to be very successful during this time, injuries to multiple starting pitchers at the same time will eventually catch up to them, and they cannot let that happen.

Tanner Bibee, Triston McKenzie, and Ben Lively have been the anchors of Cleveland's rotation so far, with all three having a sub-4.00 ERA and Lively owning an ERA below 3.00. Of the three, Lively is the one who has been the most surprising, and the Guardians should protect themselves if he becomes less effective and/or the league adjusts to his current approach. Bibee and McKenzie should be expected to pitch at or around their current performance level, if not better, which should help if Lively experiences some type of regression. 

In previous years, the Guardians could just call up someone from the minors to take someone's spot, with that person pitching as well, if not better than the player he replaced. Unfortunately, that no longer applies. Cleveland's pitching factory has done some fantastic work to churn out the arms they currently have at the major league level, but the next wave of starting pitchers is a few years away, at least. 

If the Guardians are going to have a chance at achieving their loftiest goals this season, they must address their starting rotation. While there is no doubt that adding a bat to their lineup will certainly help their chances at making a deep postseason run, acquiring a starting pitcher to solidify and stabilize their starting rotation should take precedence. There have been many instances of teams going into the playoffs with a pitching rotation that is not up to par, and they are more often than not the recipient of an early postseason exit. The Guardians must avoid joining that group at all costs and take advantage of a young and productive team that has taken the league by surprise with the addition of middle to top of the rotation starter.