Through six innings on Saturday, things were smooth sailing for the Guardians.
Cleveland led 5-2 and appeared well on its way to securing a fourth straight win.
Then came the seventh inning.
The Athletics obliterated Cleveland’s lead, knocking in five runs of their own.
Cleveland simply didn’t have any juice left to compete, eventually losing 10-5.
DH Owen Miller played a nice game, notching two RBIs on a deep sacrifice fly.
Andrés Giménez and Steven Kwan, for their parts, each recorded a hit as well.
I mention those three names because, as it stands now, those three stand in the way of a Franmil Reyes return to the lineup.
Well, that and a strained hamstring that has left Reyes out of action since May 24.
Since that day, Cleveland has gone 11-7 and even more recently put together a solid string of performances.
Reyes is nothing if not a streaky performer.
He’s well known for going on tears at different points in the season, just when fans and writers wonder if he needs to be moved to the bench.
Cleveland #Guardians DH/OF Franmil Reyes is set to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday.
— Guardians Prospective (@CleGuardPro) June 12, 2022
But Reyes’ performance so far this season has been absolutely terrifying.
As of May 26, Reyes was only batting .195 with 12 RBIs.
To make matters worse, Reyes has struck out 57 times this season.
For context, José Ramirez has basically done the opposite, recording 56 RBIs against only 16 Ks.
Maybe that’s an unfair comparison, considering Ramirez is an MVP candidate and Reyes, is well, the subject of an article wondering what his place in the club is.
But the point stands; Reyes is giving almost nothing on offense, where he generally bats DH.
But keeping him in the field also hurts Cleveland’s flexibility and forces the club to field a slightly disjointed defense.
Ideally, Josh Naylor would bat DH with Owen Miller covering his duties at first base.
Essentially, Reyes’ inclusion has a ripple effect across the diamond.
Maybe Reyes’ down streak has simply been prolonged this season.
But is it worth plugging him back in?
Probably not right now.
Andrés Giménez, who’s been able to play more second base with Miller covering first and Naylor at DH, is batting a significantly better .333 since Reyes went out.
It’s hard to argue with the fact that this team has finally found a balance over the last week or so.
It’s a balance that has kept them competitive through the current slate of games.
Some might argue that Cleveland would miss Reyes’ power bat in the lineup.
But as the season’s stats tell, Reyes has been doing more whiffing than hitting so far.
Plus, Cleveland isn’t a power-hitting team; it’s not their philosophy.
Instead, the Guardians rely on players putting the ball in play and getting on base.
And as it stands now, Cleveland has a host of players committed and able to accomplish that goal.
If Franmil Reyes was on pace for 40 home runs right now We’d be three games over 500
— J. Beers (@beersjoshua) June 10, 2022
Does Reyes’ swing for the fence approach make sense in this lineup?
Also probably not.
If Cleveland keeps winning like they are now, they should ask themselves who could bolster their playoff chances.
It’s unclear whether Reyes can do that.