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What are we learning about the Cleveland Guardians?

Wins are great, but, I thirst for knowledge

Detroit Tigers v Cleveland Guardians - Game Two Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

“All people, by nature, desire to know” - Aristotle

Cleveland Guardians fans narrowly avoided the lowest point in the 2023 season, and in recent memory, when the Guardians, led by their rookie hitters, came back to win a 4-1 game against the Detroit Tigers to split a double-header on August 18th. While I was, of course, thrilled to see the team win, I was reminded about how much of the rest of this season is simply about gaining knowledge about the players on this roster.

We are watching hitters like Tyler Freeman, Gabriel Arias, Brayan Rocchio, Bo Naylor, Will Brennan, Oscar Gonzalez and Andres Gimenez figure out how to be consistent big leaguers every day. We are watching rookie pitchers like Tanner Bibee, Gavin Williams, Logan Allen, Xzavion Curry, and Tim Herrin figure out how to get major league hitters out when they have their best stuff, their worst stuff, and everything in between. It’s a time where, given the strength of the rest of the Guardians’ schedule, we fans should be looking for answers on the team of the future rather than living and dying with the standings.

Is that ideal? No, it’s not. It’s bitterly disappointing to take a step back after last season. Is it also reality? Yes, I’m confident it is. While I’d never dismiss a miraculous run to end the season, I expect this team to struggle a bit in the next 7 weeks. But, I am focused on finding things out. Things like...

The Guardians need more home runs

Cleveland just doesn’t hit home runs. Especially since Josh Naylor was injured. Jose Ramirez and Andres Gimenez have taken steps back with their homers. Aside from an occasional Gabriel Arias moonshot, no one else really seems consistently capable of hitting them. May Jose and Gimi start smacking balls out again. May Kyle Manzardo get healthy and start mashing. May George Valera continue his recent hot stretch. May Brayan Rocchio rediscover his Akron stroke. May Bo start making more consistent contact. May Ramon Laureano of juiced ball and juiced muscles of 2019 miraculously re-emerge. And, may the Guardians front office aggressively go after a trade for a hitter like Taylor Ward, or perhaps Brent Rooker. Some right-handed pop still seems like a big need.

The battle to become Andres Gimenez’s double-play partner is electric

Brayan Rocchio broke a six-strikeout streak with a great at-bat and a veteran swing to get the Guardians on the board Friday night.

Gabriel Arias followed in the same inning with an RBI single, and then an incredible throw showing off his cannon of an arm.

Tyler Freeman has had a rough couple past games, but after some time on the IL, we can’t read too much into those performances. He’s still got a ton of promise.

Then, we can follow Juan Brito, Angel Martinez and Jose Tena in Akron and Columbus and wonder what the future holds for them when they succeed.

Every night, no matter the final results, the saga of who will be starting opening day at shortstop (or second base if Gimenez is moved) takes another turn and I find it must-watch television.

The Guardians will go as far as their young pitching takes them

It’s hard for me to imagine Guardians fans not looking forward to seeing what Tanner Bibee, Gavin Williams, Logan Allen and even Xzavion Curry are going to do each time they take the mound. These guys are all not only talented young arms, they are absolute BULLDOGS who are unphased by carrying a young team’s playoff chances on their shoulders. I think we all know that if there is a World Series run in this franchise’s near future, it will depend on this group of pitchers, as well as whatever Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, Joey Cantillo, Cal Quantrill and Daniel Espino are able to offer.

The Guardians need more strikeouts from the bullpen

Cleveland has the 26th lowest strikeout rate in the majors as a pitching staff. Bibee, Williams and Allen are striking out their share, so it’s pretty evident the strikeout drought that’s been taking place in the bullpen, leading to some bad luck losses and some well-deserved losses from balls put in the seats instead of the catcher’s glove. Will Trevor Stephan and Emmanuel Clase find some K’s with a splitter and slider, respectively, thrown consistently in the zone? Can Karinchak get rejuvenated by a return to the majors? Can Herrin find consistent control? Is Franco Aleman in Akron REAL? A solution may need to be sought outside the organization for 2024, otherwise.

There are so many good questions about the Guardians right now, all of which we are beginning to acquire some useful knowledge leading toward answers. Aristotle would be proud, so don’t let the losses a young team stumbles into get you down, my young philosophers.