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Cleveland Guardians 2023 Mid-Season Recap

To this point, the 2023 season for the Cleveland Guardians is one full of haves… and certainly, the have nots.

The Cleveland Guardians are one of three teams early on competing in a fairly tight AL Central division race, which appears rather weak. After an entertaining 2022 campaign, there doesn’t seem to be a similar spark around this year’s group. In the early stages, the offense doesn’t seem to be clicking, and the pitching is inconsistent. They are playing like the expression “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” That is what the early season struggles indicate for Guardians fans. When the pitching is on, the offense goes into a deep freeze. On the other hand, if the offense is hot, the pitching blows up. This, comparatively, will negatively affect a team’s confidence.

It begins to seem like the confidence is not there. But the season isn’t quite halfway done yet, so there is time for a turn-around. Here’s the mid-season recap for the Cleveland Guardians and what the team can do to address the issues, while also looking at the positives.

Cleveland Guardians Mid-Season Recap: Early Season Struggles

One thing immediately noticeable to this point is the offense, or, rather, the lack thereof. The offense certainly gained some pre-season hype when they signed C Mike Zunino and 1B Josh Bell. To this point, those two have not exactly earned their contracts. Bell is hitting around .242 with six home runs and 31 RBIs through his first 61 games. Zunino, in the same vein, is one of three catchers not hitting well for Cleveland. The 32-year-old is batting a paltry .177 with three dingers and 11 RBIs.

Another guy who is having a down year to this point is SS Amed Rosario. One of the key pieces in Cleveland’s blockbuster trade two years ago, and a critical cog in last year’s run, Rosario touts only a .233 average with one home run and 17 RBIs through 60 games.

As a team, the Guards only have a .241 batting average through 67 games, which puts them eighth in the American League and 20th overall in the Majors. While those numbers aren’t exactly great, the style of play is rather eerily similar to last season, where Cleveland strung hits together to score.

If the youth movement can find a way to turn things around, the offense should wake up and be back to their old ways in the second half.

Pitching Has Some Question Marks

When the offense is cold for Cleveland, that puts more of a burden on the pitching to succeed. When the offense is on, then the pitching lacks. The starters have been okay to this point, but the bullpen is not as strong as it was last year.

Despite the lack of production in the back end, Cleveland still holds a top-ten ERA in the Majors so far at 3.80. There is a wealth of prospects and players available for the Guardians at pitcher. One of the premier guys is this year’s ace, SP Shane Bieber. Through 14 starts, Bieber sports a 5-3 record with 64 strikeouts and a healthy 3.29 ERA. While he may not have his Cy Young form from 2020, he certainly still can put up ace-like numbers for the rotation.

However, behind Bieber, injuries and inconsistencies have created some difficulties for the Guardians staff.

Young Guns Stepping Up

Pitching does have a brighter future, conversely. Two rookie call-ups from AAA-Columbus have picked up the slack in SP Tanner Bibee and SP Logan T. Allen. Each of them is showing that they can be a steady presence every fifth day. Bibee is sporting a 2-2 record with a 3.91 ERA, but he does hold a very solid 3.21 strikeout-to-walk ratio. On the other side, the left-handed Allen carries a 3-2 mark with a 3.31 ERA and averages almost a strikeout an inning.

Bullpen Questions

The bullpen is one unit that is not quite as strong as it was last season. One positive standout, however, is right-hander RP Xzavion Curry. After beginning his career as a starter, Curry has transitioned to more of a bullpen role with the Guardians. Safe to say, that move is already proving to be fruitful. Through 17 appearances, the Orangeburg, South Carolina native has a 3-0 record with an ERA of just 2.55 and a batting average against in the mid-.230s.

Another guy in the back end that has a healthy number–but appears to have lost his edge–is CP Emmanuel Clase. One of the more actively used closers in today’s game, Clase has a 1-4 record, but does rank highly with 20 saves.

Where Does the Defense Rank?

The defense to this point is middle-of-the-pack. Cleveland has committed 34 errors to this point, which puts them exactly in the middle of the American League. Their .986 fielding percentage also ranks in the top 7.

Cleveland Guardians: Statement Win/Worst Loss

To this point, the Guardians’ biggest victory came against the Houston Astros in a 10-9, 14-inning affair on June 9. Conversely, the worst loss also occurred in June, when the bullpen squandered a 6-3 lead in the last two innings to lose 7-6 on the road against the Minnesota Twins on June 1. That one particularly stung as it came against the division leaders.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, this season so far is full of ups and downs. But that is the normal course of an MLB season. As of right now, the Cleveland Guardians have a 20.3% chance to make the playoffs. But with more than three and a half months of the season still to play, the tide can certainly change direction at any point. Which way the Guardians’ momentum takes them will determine their fate the rest of the way in 2023.

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