What stage of alarm are we at for the Guardians?
On Thursday, Cleveland dropped yet another game to the Detroit Tigers, 4-3.
Let’s say, it was a short day at the office for pitcher Konnor Pilkington.
The former Mississippi State Bulldog lasted just 3.1 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and four walks.
Offensively, the team found a way to get hits, knocking eight.
It was yet another example of a team that’s failed to find sync for much of the season.
So at about the quarter-season mark, have the Guardians been contenders or pretenders so far?
Fans will cling longingly to the start of the 2022 MLB season.
It was April, Steven Kwan was unbeatable, José Ramirez was going to coast to AL MVP, the batting triple crown, and Ohio Senate.
The pitching wasn’t awesome, but who cared?
As long as the offense was putting up 10, 11, *gasp* 17 runs, Cleveland might as well have team mascot Slider the Purple Swedish Chef on the mound.
Life sure does come at you fast.
This was a team that, at the end of April, led the American League in RBIs, average, hits, and runs.
As of May 27, Cleveland sits seventh in RBIs and runs, fourth (and just barely) in average, and 11th in hits.
Again, those May numbers aren’t across the majors, but just in the American League.
And that’s despite Ramirez leading the majors in RBIs.
The man wanted to stay in Cleveland, no matter the cost. Now, he's lighting it up for the Guardians, leading Major League Baseball in RBIs. Show your appreciation for José Ramírez! https://t.co/IHD8m8PB6m pic.twitter.com/FGeTDjCUFG
— clevelanddotcom (@clevelanddotcom) May 21, 2022
The current woes began in earnest against the Chicago White Sox on May 9.
Since that series started, Cleveland has played 13 games.
They’ve won four.
It’s fairly easy to see why.
Across those 13 games, the Guardians are averaging roughly seven hits a night.
Not bad, but not great.
In the same sample, the team has punched in an anemic four runs per contest.
And that’s with two heavy outlier performances buffing up that average (a 12-run night to remember against Chicago and an eight-run win in Minnesota).
So we’re left with the issue that Cleveland doesn’t really struggle to hit the ball.
It would be lovely to see the team bump up that seven hits/night number, but we can live with that for now.
Scoring only four runs on those seven hits?
Not going to cut it.
Steven Kwan has dropped off, Franmil Reyes has been borderline-unplayable, and Ramirez can’t win games on his own.
Mound-tain or Molehill?
Cleveland’s pitching so far hasn’t been masterful.
The team sports the 13th-worst ERA (3.96), on par with Texas, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.
The rotation’s OBP and OPS are both . . . just average.
In fairness, Cleveland’s pitching has been better lately.
The arms have only given up some 2.83 earned runs a night over the last six games ( a seven-run stinker by Zach Plesac keeps that number higher than it probably should be).
— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) May 24, 2022
But it’s still a rotation that’s posted average numbers for most of the season.
“Average” is probably an apt description as any for this team.
If there’s any hope, it’s that Cleveland has been here before.
From April 22-28, the Guardians lost all seven games they played.
They followed that up by winning five of their next six.
Cleveland is facing another stretch of very winnable games.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we said in early May when the squad was staring at the Reds and Tigers.
If the Guardians want to prove they are more than an average ball club, they need to turn things around, stat.
The White Sox still aren’t the team folks expected they’d be, but the Twins aren’t going anywhere.
Is this team an offensive juggernaut?
Or is it just average?
Probably the latter.