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Cleveland Guardians 2022: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians

José Ramírez and the Guardians are hoping to christen their new name with a return to the postseason

In case you forgot, the Cleveland Indians are no more. In July, they officially became the Cleveland Guardians after being called the Indians since 1915. The people in charge of the renamed ballclub feel that the Guardians should be able to challenge for the AL Central title in 2022 even though their streak of eight straight winning seasons came to an end in 2021.

To support that optimism, the Guardians need a return to health by the starting rotation. Last year, Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac, the top three starters, missed big chunks of the season on the injured list as Cleveland finished second in the division at 80–82.

While Bieber, Civale and Plesac were injured, new arms emerged. That's a good thing, but the biggest question about the Guardians in 2022 is their offense. It was pitiful last year, and heading into the lockout, nothing had been done to improve it outside of exercising José Ramírez's $12 million option for 2022. With so little firepower, it's hard to see the Guardians regaining their status as a postseason contender this year.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Guardians

Cleveland Guardians logo

"Pitching coach Ruben Niebla left for the Padres, and that could be a big loss. That said, he leaves the Guardians in a good spot, with enough pitching to at least be competitive for a wild card spot. Shane Bieber looked crisp when he came back in late September, which was very comforting to see. Aaron Civale wasn't quite as sharp when he got back from that finger injury, but he proved he's a solid mid-rotation guy — with Bieber, Civale and Cal Quantrill, who was lights-out in the second half, they'll avoid long losing streaks. And when you look at what Zach Plesac has done and the progress Triston McKenzie made after his early command issues, you can really start to dream on these guys. Myles Straw is really dynamic at the top of the lineup with Amed Rosario, in front of José Ramírez and Franmil Reyes. They're still a bat or two away, but they've got the makings of a decent lineup, especially if Andrés Giménez establishes himself at second base after seeming to figure things out down the stretch."

Beyond the Box Score

What's in a name? On July 23, the Indians officially became the Guardians. The organization decided to make the change because it is seeking to become more of an instrument for social justice in Cleveland and northeastern Ohio. Cleveland's baseball team had been named the Indians since 1915, and the change has not gone over well with a large portion of the fan base. CEO Paul Dolan, a Cleveland native, understands that. "I'm 63 years old, and they've been the Indians since I was aware of them, probably at 4 or 5 years old," says Dolan. "So it will take a long time. But we're not asking anybody to give up their memories or history of the franchise that will always be there."

Cincinnati Reds Cleveland Guardians 2022 Baseball Cover

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No-hit wonders The team was officially no-hit a record three times in 2021. They were no-hit a fourth time in the second game of a seven-inning no-hitter against Tampa Bay, but that was not recognized by MLB. Chicago lefty Carlos Rodón, Cincinnati lefty Wade Miley and Milwaukee's Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader did the honors in the nine-inning no-hitters. Cleveland, a charter member of the American League, has been no-hit 14 times in franchise history, but never more than once in a season until last year.

Why me? Zach Plesac was Cleveland's starting pitcher in all three of the official no-hitters. In those games, he had one terrible game (0.2 IP, 6 R), one gem (8 IP, 0 R), and one solid start (6 IP, 3 R). Plesac had a hard time getting his head around the fact that he attracted no-hitters like ants to a picnic. "I think it's insane," said Plesac. "I don't know if it's me or what's going on. It's incredible that each time we've been no-hit, I've been the starter."

Replacement wins For the second year in a row, manager Terry Francona had to bow out of the season because of health problems. Bench coach DeMarlo Hale replaced him as acting manager on July 29 and led Cleveland to a 30–33 record. In 2020, first base coach Sandy Alomar replaced Francona and led Cleveland to a 28–18 record and a wild-card berth.

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Bring the heat Rookie closer Emmanuel Clase threw 471 of his 1,057 pitches at 100+ mph last season. Philadelphia's José Alvarado was second with 215 such pitches. Clase finished the season with the fastest average four-seam fastball (100.7 mph) and the fastest average cut fastball (100.2 mph) according to baseballsavant.com.

Iron Man Bryan Shaw, who rejoined Cleveland on a make-good minor league deal in spring training, led MLB with 81 appearances last season. In the process, he became the franchise leader in relief appearances (459 games). Shaw, who pitched previously for the Indians from 2013 through 2017 and has 693 career appearances, says his goal is to beat Jesse Orosco's MLB record of 1,248 relief appearances.

Projected Lineup

LINEUP

CF    Myles Straw (R)
SS    Amed Rosario (R)
3B    José Ramírez (S)
DH   Franmil Reyes (R)
1B    Bobby Bradley (L)
LF    Oscar Mercado (R)
RF    Bradley Zimmer (L)
C     Austin Hedges (R)
2B    Gabriel Arias (R)

BENCH

C      Sandy León (S)
UT    Yu Chang (R)
OF    Richie Palacios (L)
UT    Andrés Giménez (L)

ROTATION

RHP    Shane Bieber
RHP    Aaron Civale
RHP    Zach Plesac
RHP    Cal Quantrill
RHP    Triston McKenzie

BULLPEN

RHP    Emmanuel Clase (C)
RHP    James Karinchak
LHP    Anthony Gose
RHP    Nick Sandlin
RHP    Sam Hentges
RHP    Trevor Stephan
LHP    Logan Allen
RHP    Justin Garza

2022 Prediction: 4th in AL Central