The Guardians’ Tuesday night game against the White Sox was postponed for “snow, wind, and cold temperatures.”
That might just be the coldest thing about this team of late; coming off a sweep against the White Sox (the top of a Wednesday doubleheader was an 11-1 scorcher), the club currently sits atop the AL Central.
Through twelve games, José Rodriguez leads the American League in hits, RBIs, and OPS.
Before hitting the ten-day IL, Owen Miller was about as productive as they come (.500/.545/.964).
And Steven Kwan might just be the second coming.
Steven Kwan cannot be stopped!
He's been on base 15 times in his first 4 career games. pic.twitter.com/SERFBXQiQ6
— MLB (@MLB) April 11, 2022
But despite the start, there are two players off to slow starts so far.
Getting them going might be the key to sustaining this pace into the fall.
1. FRANMIL REYES
After seeing 27 pitches during Wednesday’s Game 1 doubleheader, Franmil Reyes seemed to breathe a sigh of relief.
“Take more than 20 pitches per game…it makes me a better hitter when I see more pitches,” the outfielder explained.
Before the series against the White Sox, Reyes flat-out struggled making contact with the ball.
Against the Reds, Reyes went hitless and turned in three strikeouts.
In the series against the Giants, it was a similar story: a single hit and five strikeouts.
For those keeping score at home, that’s 21 at-bats, one hit, and eight strikeouts.
As of Thursday, Reyes has seen 47 at-bats and is posting a .191/.224/.479 slash line.
Across the league, those numbers rank 133, 199, and 157, respectively, this season.
Given Reyes’ precious spot in the batting order (right behind Rodriguez), it’s even more critical that he turns things around.
After the slow start, manager Terry Francona stressed that the club “really needs to get [Reyes] going.”
Cleveland fans may want to hold back the boos for just a little while longer, though.
That’s because Reyes does have a history of working himself out of slumps.
Last fall, he spent August hovering around .200 before crushing six home runs and driving in 20 RBIs over the next four weeks.
And, after a quietly improved series against the White Sox, there might be an indication he’s ready to turn the corner.
In seven at-bats against Chicago, he put three balls in play and recorded two RBIs and a walk.
He topped it off with a long ball on Thursday, finally ending his career-worst 47 at-bats without a home run.
Franmil Reyes puts this ball into ORBIT for his first homer of the season! pic.twitter.com/osNmyxdhcr
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 21, 2022
“I want that every day,” he said.
2. Austin Hedges
Austin Hedges is becoming a reverse James Harden.
And no, not because of his facial hair.
Like the star NBA guard, Hedges excels on one side of the ball, while struggling immensely on the other.
Guardians pitchers love seeing his name in the catcher’s spot.
He’s a reliable defensive force behind the plate.
Next to the plate, however, he’s 3-29 on the season.
“I’d rather have [Hedges] struggle hitting rather than catching,” said Francona. “[O]ffense is welcomed, but if he hits and doesn’t catch, we’re not in a good spot.”
Francona might be right, that a stable defensive presence behind the plate is valued, but at what point does Hedges’ inability to get on-base consistently outweigh that factor?
Perhaps Hedges can play himself into shape.
If not, Francona might opt for more consistency (even if it means less flash) on both sides of the ball.
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