2022 Cleveland Guardians Preview

Guardians Preview
Spread the love

No longer the Cleveland Indians, the now Cleveland Guardians begin the 2022 season with a name change and new logo, which will appear on the jerseys and hats, respectively. Preview the 2022 Cleveland Guardians the future is bright for this franchise now that infielder José Ramírez is locked up in a long-term deal. However with no offense to help him out, this team will struggle.

2021 Season in Review

It was certainly an up and down 2021 season for the newly named Guardians. They made MLB history by becoming the first team to be no-hit three times in a single season. The three no-hitters came from the Chicago White Sox, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Milwaukee Brewers. (Interesting fact, Zach Plesac was the Guardian’s starting pitcher for all three no-hitters.)

José Ramírez and outfielder Franmil Reyes led the team’s offense. Both hit 30+ homeruns and were really the only two consistent hitters all season. After appearing on the team in 2019 Bobby Bradley was back for 2021 and was a nice surprise playing in 74 games and hitting 16 homeruns.

The pitching side was hindered not having Shane Bieber. He was the Opening Day starter but was placed on the injured list in June with a subscapularis strain. He did return in late September, but not having their ACE throughout the season really challenged this team. Zach Plesac won ten games but his ERA was at 4.67 and home runs hurt him. Logan Allen, Sam Hentges, and J.C. Mejía combined for 34 starts; however, none had an ERA below 6.20.

Manager Terry Francona is back

A preview the 2022 Cleveland Guardians is positive due to the return of Manager Terry Francona. The manager, popular among his players for his communication, was sidelined over the past two seasons by a series of medical issues. He stated during Spring Training that he feels recharged and is eager to begin his 10th season with Cleveland. The players and fans are looking forward to it as well.

2022 Starting Pitching

The best thing going for the Guardians’ starting rotation is that it begins the 2022 season healthy. Considered the strength of this team, if they want to contend they need stay on the field and pitch well. Bieber must get back to his All-Star form and become that ACE again. He has emerged in recent years as one of the best starting pitchers in the majors. He won the 2020 American League Cy Young Award, and he has compiled a 2.92 ERA.

Another solid pitcher for the Guardians is Cal Quantrill, one those replacement starters from last season. He pitched so well that he’s now part of the 2022 starting rotation and finished the season at 8-3 with a 2.89 ERA. He led the rotation in innings pitched and ERA.

Also excellent was Aaron Civale. At 12-5 last year with a 3.84 ERA, he certainly will be counted on again to have similar or better statistics.

Pitching Coach Carl Willis and Assistant Pitching Coach Joe Torres have to work with Logan Allen, Sam Hentges, and possibly Triston McKenzie on their control and their confidence for them to be successful. However, the outlook for all three is good.

Bullpen 2022

For the first half of the 2021 season, the bullpen was great and seldom blew a lead or even a save. Young flame-throwers Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak were a fun duo to watch. However, the second half saw the bullpen collapse. After posting a run less during the first half of the season, the relief corps as a whole ended up with an overall ERA of 3.64.

Clase who finished with 24 saves and a 1.29 ERA was a bright spot. He will once again be the closer. With his 96-99 MPH fastball and his slider, he will be counted on even more to get the save. Last August he converted all six save opportunities. Opposing batters hit .095 against him, winning him AL Reliever of the Month honors.

Karinchak had a high ERA at 4.07. He still is regarded as a great set-up pitcher. He got off to a great start, but once MLB cracked down on the “sticky stuff,” he collapsed. Coincidence? While his ERA was over six from June to August, he did recover nicely to end the season. If Clase struggles and Karinchak is pitching, well he could be the closer. Karinchak had 11 saves in 2021. However, he begins the season on the IL. When he returns, his 97 MPH fastball will be counted on.

The 2022 Offense

Preview the 2022 Cleveland Guardians: Their biggest need at the end of the 2021 could easily remain their biggest need of the 2022 season, OFFENSE, a lack of productive bats. They definitely need hitters to step up.

If they are going to be a better than a .500 team, they must improve on the runs. They ranked 18 last year. Including the three no-hitters, Guardians batters were held to one or no runs in 22 games. Bright spot José Ramírez did his part. He hit 36 home runs and drove in over 103 runs. However, it is no secret he doesn’t have much offensive help. Franmil Reyes hit 30 home runs in just over 400 at-bats, but struck out 149 times. Reyes must improve on his .254 batting average.

During the offseason Cleveland fans were hoping the team would address their lackluster offense in free agency. However, they chose to hold firm and made no moves. Hitting coaches will be busy this year.

2022 Outlook

Preview the 2022 Cleveland Guardians: The Guardians have reduced their payroll nearly $100 million over the past three seasons. While they have some veterans, their young players and some prospects could make debuts this season. The team must avoid the long losing streak. The starting rotation remains a strength, but the lineup simply does not have enough to get this team where it needs. On top of that, they must find a way to get some offense or they will find themselves out of the playoff picture for 2022. Sadly, at this time, the outlook puts them out of the postseason.

Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images

Players mentioned:

José Ramírez, Zach Plesac, Franmil Reyes, Bobby Bradley, Shane Bieber, Logan Allen, Sam Hentges, Terry Francona, J.C. Mejía, Cal Quantrill, Aaron Civale, Carl Willis, Joe Torres, Triston McKenzie, Emmanuel Clase, James Karinchak