Top Concerns For the Second Half of the Season

July 21, 2023

Andy Billman

3 Concerns after 2-4 start for the Guardians post-All-Star break


1 – Shane Bieber Injury

Right before the start with the Rangers on Friday night July 14th, it was announced that Shane Bieber would be missing his start on Monday in Pittsburgh.  Eventually, he would land on the 15-day IL before the weekend was out with no exact timetable for a return.  

This was a real setback for the Guardians on multiple fronts.  The Bieber injury puts more stress on a staff that is already young and lacks experience.  This also puts additional pressure on Aaron Civale to not only perform at a high level but to stay healthy.  

Finally, this does not end the trade talks, but it puts a huge damper on possible deals to trade Bieber as more than likely he will not be with the club past 2024.  

Even before the first pitch in Arlington, the news of Shane Bieber’s injury set a pessimistic tone. 


2 – Starting Staff 

It plays off of the Shane Bieber injury, but it is a huge question moving forward of what the Guardians are going to do with this young starting staff.  It is one thing to have success, which Cleveland is experiencing as the young staff is doing a great job winning games.  But they do not want to wear out young arms that have never pitched this many innings in a calendar year.  It can cause long-term damage to a rookie arm if not handled properly.

Innings will have to be managed by the team for Tanner Bibee, Logan Allen, and Gavin Williams.   Hopefully, Bieber, Cal Quantrill, and Triston McKenzie come back at some point to help out, but as of now, all three do not have a timetable for a return.  And god forbid Aaron Civale gets injured again and had to go back to the IL. 

To summarize, because of the youth, innings will be managed, meaning shorter starts and quicker hooks.  More appearances for the bullpen…


3 – Bullpen Breakdown 

Bullpen, did someone mention the Guardians bullpen?  

Well, needless to say, the bullpen is well, gulp, not off to a good start after the all-star break.  In six games, the bullpen has given up 19 earned runs, and three blown saves, I mean whoa!

The bullpen is currently having a hard time, to say the least, and now they are going to be asked to do more with the injury to Bieber to help keep the innings down for the young staff.

Needless to say, Emmanual Clase has to perform at a high level from here on out.  And hopefully, Trevor Stephan, Sam Hentges, and Enyel De Los Santos find consistency as they have struggled in the past six games.  Especially with Stephan that usually comes into late-game high-intensity situations. 

It feels like a helpless situation, but it will give opportunities to Eli Morgan, Xzavion Curry, and Michael Kelly among others to shine in a situation when the Guardians need their bullpen to rally this club in moments.


OVERALL 

This feels like a mission-impossible situation for our young Guardians. The starting pitching has injuries forcing young, inexperienced starters to come up quickly and perform at a high level.  Add to that the bullpen currently is falling apart in multiple situations from multiple players leaving little confidence.

And this does not get into any of the power-hitting and run-scoring issues from the Guards offense, so it will go a long way if the hitters can start putting up more runs to help lift the team.

If there’s hope, the Guardians have a great history of managing and producing pitching.  They are one of the best organizations in the game at doing so and that does give some light in a dark situation.

If the Guardians make the playoffs this season, and they have an opportunity to do so in the weak AL Central, it would be a huge accomplishment looking at all of the hurdles this team is having to overcome with the starting pitching injuries and bullpen meltdowns. 

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