On Friday, the Guardians officially kick off the second-half of their season.
It will be the first of an 11-game road trip against the Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays.
It’s a tough start (more on that below) before the Guardians return to Cleveland to face off against the Arizona Diamondbacks at the start of August.
The time off has been mighty productive for the Guardians.
All three Guardians participants in the All-Star game left their mark on the midseason special en route to the American League’s 3-2 victory over the National League.
Let’s hope they bring some of that momentum back to the club for the second half of the season.
Speaking of, let’s talk about a few facts about the rest of the Guardians’ season:
1. Easier Than Most
First, some good news: the Guardians have one of the easier schedules remaining.
Per Tankathon, Cleveland has the 10th-easiest second-half and the fourth-easiest among AL teams.
And if most fans were asked about Cleveland’s biggest threat for the rest of the season, which team comes to mind?
Probably the Minnesota Twins, right?
In the American League, only the White Sox, Mariners, and Astros have an easier schedule.
That the White Sox have the second-easiest schedule remaining is slightly scary, considering the South Side club is just a game behind Cleveland in the AL Central.
— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) July 19, 2022
The average record of Cleveland’s remaining teams is .495, anchored by 16 combined games against the Royals and Tigers.
But the Sox get 20 chances against the two clubs, plus seven games against the lowly Athletics.
Regardless, the Guardians will have plenty of bites against the White Sox and Twins to keep things tight in the division.
Per 538, the Guardians have just a 29% chance of making the playoffs and an even longer 18% chance to win the division.
The White Sox, on the other hand, have a 61% chance of making the playoffs and a 46% chance of winning the division.
Those odds are better than the current division-leaders Twins.
Clearly, the analysts expect Chicago to bounce back in a big way after a rough first half of the season.
In addition, the Guardians might get a little more rest over the next few weeks than they’ve had to get used to.
The team has just three doubleheaders remaining on the schedule so far.
By contrast, the Guardians have played in three doubleheaders so far in July alone.
Further, the Guardians played 26 games in the 23 days before the All-Star game.
That’s simply nuts.
And a big reason why the club struggled of late.
With more rest, hopefully, the club will be a little better.
2. Two Key Stretches
If the latter half of Cleveland’s schedule is relatively easy, there are two undoubted tough patches.
The first comes right out of the gate and begins on Friday.
Over the next 18 games, the Guardians play the Astros, Red Sox, Rays, White Sox, and Diamondbacks.
— La Mole (@FranmilsEyebrow) July 22, 2022
Of those teams, only the D-Backs are worse than .500.
In addition, the Red Sox and Rays figure to be serious competition for the Guardians’ Wild Card ambitions.
The AL East is a juggernaut, with every single team .500 or better.
That includes the once-lowly Baltimore Orioles, one of the hottest teams prior to the All-Star game.
Speaking of hot teams, the Guardians play both the Orioles and Seattle Mariners in August.
Between August 19 and September 4, the Guardians play the White Sox, Orioles, and Mariners.
Each of those teams is .500 or better, with the Mariners a full nine games over even.
But here’s the kicker — the Mariners are still 10 games behind the Astros for first in the AL West.
So if Seattle is still in this by September, they’ll be angling for a Wild Card spot, potentially like the Guardians.
It’s desperate and hungry teams like that that should give the Guardians pause.
A strong showing during these two stretches should go a long way towards propelling Cleveland to the postseason.