Inconsistent James Karinchak
2023 got off to a bad start for Guardians reliever James Karinchak. Karinchak allowed three runs in his first appearance and was the first pitcher to be penalized by the new pitch clock. Before the season began Karinchak was pegged as someone who could struggle with this new rule, the fact that it came in Game 1 was hardly surprising.
While Karinchak did bounce back with two consecutive scoreless appearances with four strikeouts and two baserunners allowed, a third was not in the cards. Karinchak would come in a 3-3 game in the ninth and it was simply not his day. A leadoff walk to Oakland catcher Ryan Noda would eventually come back to bite him. The Guardians reliever would strike out the next batter and induce a ground ball for the second out, but it was a two-out RBI single from Tony Kemp which hand Cleveland a loss.
The Guardians are going to need Karinchak to be more consistent on the mound. There is still plenty of time for improvment in this area, but maybe some time in lower leverage situations combined with spacing out his appearances could result in more productive outings.
Amed Rosario's performance at the plate
It has not been a good start for Cleveland's number two hitter. Amed Rosario has struck out nine times in 35 plate appearances. This is simply unacceptable. Rosario needs to a lot better than six hits in 33 at-bats if Cleveland is going to repeat as AL Central Champions. Dropping Rosario in the order is not necessarily likely as Terry Francona likes to stick with his guys. It will take a prolonged slump before Tito would even consider moving Rosario out of the two spot, though it would probably be beneficial even if Cleveland's shortstop was firing on all cylinders.