Review First Half of the 2023 Season – 3 Positives and 3 Not So Positive

July 13, 2023

Andy Billman

3 Positives for Guardians Fans in the 90 Games

1 – The Young Arms

The amazing starting pitching from the rookie starters has saved the season.  I have written quite a bit about the young staff on the site, so I keep it short.  

Without the strong performances from Logan Allen, Tanner Bibee, and Gavin Williams along with spot starts in the spring from Hunter Gaddis and Peyton Battenfield, the Guardians would be near the bottom of baseball.  To get not only innings but wins from rookies on a consistent basis shows you the great talent of the Cleveland Guardians front office and staff.  Most organizations would be thinking next year with two to three rookie starters in the rotation throughout the season, not in Cleveland.

2 – J&J

Jose Ramirez and Josh Naylor have identified themselves as the true leaders of the club and have performed at a very high level throughout the season.  Both are near the top of every offensive category for the team and have multiple memorable moments throughout the first 90 games.

3 – Bullpen 

It sometimes does not feel that the Guards bullpen is one of the best in the game, but they truly are one of the best in MLB and have the best ERA in MLB at 3.09 (according to, and Cleveland’s bullpen has given up the least amount of earned runs ( 

As we know, the Guardians bullpen does have faults, they are tied for second in blown saves at 17.  And that is a key stat for a bullpen, so you can’t call this bullpen great or elite.

But it is a good bullpen and with depth from unsung arms like Eli Morgan and Xzavion Curry who have performed well in their duties.  Rookie Tim Herrin has been put into multiple situations throughout the first 90 games, and done a nice job.

Hopefully, Emmanuel Clase and Trevor Stephan use this break to get some much-needed R&R as they need them to perform more consistently when they start back up.  

All in all, this is a good bullpen and has performed well under pressure, yes not perfect or great, but still a good bullpen.

3 Criticisms for the Guardians First 90 Games

1 – Lack of Power 

I have written multiple times about the Guardians lack of power, so for this article, I will keep it short and for more in-depth check out the 3 questions Guardians fans should be asking at the break.

Cleveland is last in home runs, they need to find more dingers in the lineup to have success in October.  The lack of power in the first two months was alarming, it did improve in June and July, but this club really needs to find its power source. 

2 – Catcher 

The catcher position for the Guardians through most of the first half was an ongoing topic, and not in a good way.  Mike Zunino was an epic flop as a free agent signing as he did the rare double dip, could not hit, and also was having issues behind the plate with his defense.  Zunino brought down the club frequently with passed balls behind the plate that one would think just did not deflate fans, but his teammates as well.

With that being said, it put the catcher in a negative tone and was unsettling until recently.  Currently, rookie Bo Naylor is the everyday catcher with Cam Gallagher as the veteran and David Fry is around because he has shown he can hit.  Naylor is clearly the future with Fry being the eventual backup. 

Hopefully, Naylor along with Gallagher and Fry can keep this position settled for the rest of the season, and I believe they will.  It is a lot of inexperience behind the plate for an inexperienced pitching staff so it can make for a roller coaster experience for everybody.  We should remember that as fans, it is not going to be always smooth as the lack of an everyday veteran catcher is going to have some learning curve bumps for Bo in particular. 

3 – Close Games  

Cleveland loves a close game, and extra-inning games as well.  That does build character for a young club that clearly is under pressure to win games, and that does provide a good experience for a club lacking a lot of games played at the MLB level.

The other end of close games is putting too much pressure on a club, and not having enough positive results.  The Guardians are 17-19 in one-run games, and there are instances when you can tell a player is trying to do too much and other instances when a player is under too much stress and with youth, it can cause a player to lose confidence over time and not play to its full potential.  

Cleveland really needs more games that are not so nail-bitingly stressful.  

Final Thoughts

 This team is about where it was a year ago and the AL Central division is not as strong as it was in 2022.  The Twins are beatable, and no one else in the division is on the radar of making the playoffs.

Keep that in mind, yes they are young, they don’t hit home runs, and keep the Tums close to you during a game.  But this team also has a lot of talent, they continue to grow and the young starting pitching is a huge plus not just for this year, but for the years to come and they are more than likely making the playoffs again. 

They also have two leaders in J-RAM and Josh Naylor who can carry the team, and they have a big decision to make with Shane Bieber, do they hold or trade to possibly get a big bat?

My prediction, the Guardians don’t make a big trade, and they win the AL Central.  Get ready for more October baseball in Cleveland. 


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