Look, José Ramirez has been great for the Guardians so far this season.
Whatever adjective you’d like to insert, go right ahead.
But in order for this team to make a deep run in the fall, the Guardians will need to look a lot more like Earth, Wind, and Fire and less one man band.
That is to say, they’ll need more.
Maybe not dozens of performers on stage more, but still, more.
So far this season, the Guardians have gotten production from other spots.
Steven Kwan and Owen Miller have been excellent.
The rookie outfielder was off to a red-hot start before a hamstring injury sidelined him.
The status of that injury is day-to-day.
Hopefully, Kwan makes a speedy recovery back to the lineup, where he’s desperately needed after the team followed up a sweep to the Yankees with another sweep to the Angels.
Miller, to his own credit, is batting consistently enough for Manager Terry Francona to slot him into the cleanup spot.
While his .409 average might be due to his only having played 44 innings to date, he’s still provided an early boost.
Shane Bieber’s return to the mound has been equally fun to see.
If he stays healthy and continues to find form, the Guardians will be cruising.
Likewise for Zach Plesac, who is quietly putting together an excellent start to the season with a sub-1.60 ERA.
After pitching 6.2 quality innings today (the longest outing by a @CleGuardians starter so far this season), Zach Plesac feels he's getting close to having his best stuff.#ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/CRXQoN5x3A
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) April 21, 2022
But the Guardians will need more from other pitchers to improve a very average rotation and bullpen.
Across the league, Cleveland is middling in ERA (19th), hits (14th), and opposition batting average (17th).
There’s no other way around it: those numbers have to improve.
And as good as he is, José Ramirez isn’t taking the mound anytime soon.
As for the batters, the situation is solid, but will it last?
And what do the Guardians need to make it last?
They might do well to follow Atlanta’s playbook from last season.
Much like last season’s Atlanta, this year’s Guardians feature a first and third baseman who can put the ball in play–Ramirez and Miller (it was Austin Riley and Freddie Freeman for ATL).
Myles Straw (.268) and Kwan (.341) could be Cleveland’s Ozzie Albies or pre-injury Ronald Acuña, Jr., setting the tone early in the lineup.
What the team could really use is one more top-four bat.
Especially when the offense sputters like it did in the series against the Angels.
Cleveland Guardians’ hot-and-cold offense spoils Shane Bieber’s strong start in 3-0 loss to LA Angels https://t.co/lJHTQ9MK1I pic.twitter.com/SZywXle1pW
— Nordonia Hills News (@NHillsNews) April 26, 2022
The good news: they don’t have to look very far.
The bad news: Franmil Reyes has looked like a shell of himself thus far.
Getting his bat going and slotting him back in the cleanup or top-four would catapult this offense into the stratosphere.
It’s already a strong lineup, but no one ever complained about one more bat.
That would have the ripple effect of taking pressure off of Ramirez, Kwan, and Miller.
It’s entirely possible that Kwan and Miller stay consistent.
That Plesac and Bieber are a solid one-two on the mound.
And that Franmil Reyes comes on hot.
But in order for the Guardians to make a deep push, it can’t just be possible.
It needs to happen.
Because as herculean as José Ramirez has been, he can’t do it on his own.
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