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Know Your Enemy: Cleveland Guardians

Not the worst name they could have picked.

Cleveland Indians Officially Become Cleveland Guardians Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

The Good Guys are on the road again, moving through the AL Central, starting with Cleveland. The f/n/a Baseball Team has renamed themselves to Cleveland Guardians, missing so many opportunities for funnier options like the Steamers or Spiders or River Fires.

2021 Record: 80-82, 2nd in AL Central

The Guardians had the historic honor of becoming the first team to be no-hit three times in one season: first by Carlos Rodón, then by Wade Miley of the Cincinnati Reds, and finally in a combined no-hitter by Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers. Zach Plesac was the Cleveland starter in all three games.

Cleveland finished the season 13 games back from first place, with a weird 40-41 record both home and away. The 2021 season also saw the exit of both Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets. Lindor was in his final year of arbitration, and with Cleveland being a cheap franchise thought it was better to deal away the face of the franchise rather than pay him. They added Eddie Rosario in a one-year deal in a move that was praised — until Rosario had a terrible season that eventually landed him on the IL and got him sent off to Atlanta in July.

There was a rash of injuries throughout the season, including Franmil Reyes and just about every righty in the bullpen, which allowed new talent to shine like rookie Triston McKenzie and former bullpen member Cal Quantrill, who saw himself promoted to starting rotation and post an 8-1 record with a 2.27 ERA after July.

Even with a healthy Reyes, José Ramírez was the standout on the roster. He was fourth in stolen bases (27) and had a strikeout rate of less than 14%. Ramirez was one of four players with 100 runs, 100 RBIs, and 20 HRs. He did all of that while slashing .266/.355/.538 (not exactly career numbers for him).

Terry Francona returned for his eighth year as manager, stepping aside for the remainder of the season in July to deal with health issues. So far his health seems to be better now, and we wish him the best.

2022 So Far: Still in 2nd Place

Cleveland is currently sitting two games back from first with a 4-4 record as of this writing. Its offseason was relatively uneventful, with the exception of Ramírez’s contract extension. The team holds the third-lowest payroll in the league (can anyone believe that the Pirates have a higher payroll?), followed only by Oakland and Baltimore.

The rotation remains strong as they continue to be led by Shane Bieber, followed by Quantrill and Aaron Civale, who both had strong 2021 seasons. Zach Plesac may be able to rebound, and McKenzie has a chance to put it all together. Emmanuel Clase is quickly becoming one of the best closers in the league, with 24 saves in 2021 over 69 23 innings, posting a 1.30 ERA with 74 strikeouts.

Series Matchup: Let’s see how this goes

Monday will be Dallas Keuchel vs. McKenzie. Considering the inconsistencies between the two, this is a pretty even matchup. Maybe we’ll see Cy Young Keuchel ... or maybe we’ll see 2021 Keuchel. As long as it’s a Keuchel who doesn’t lose the game, I’ll be happy.

Tuesday is Jimmy Lambert vs. Bieber. I have nothing to say about how this might go, other than pray to whatever it is you pray to.

Wednesday is Dylan Cease vs. Plesac. Cease has stepped up his game with the loss of both Giolito and Lynn from the rotation. With a 2-0 record and 1.69 ERA vs. Plesac’s 0-1, 1.64, my money is on Cease. If history repeats itself, Cease may be on track for a *removed due to superstition*.

Thursday will be Michael Kopech vs. Quantrill for the finale. Kopech had a decent enough outing on Saturday against the Rays, showing shades of what White Sox fans can expect from him for years to come. So far he is 0-0 with a 1.00 ERA over his two starts. Quantrill is 1-0 with a 3.72 ERA, having gone 9 23 innings this season, so this may be a pretty even matchup.

Here it is from the Bird App