Don’t look now, but the Guardians are on a roll.
Winners in seven of their last eight, the club is finally taking care of bogey opponents (read: Tigers) that they struggled against earlier in the season.
The club also picked up a key series win against the Toronto Blue Jays, keeping their series unbeaten record post-All-Star Break intact.
It’s been key to Cleveland extending a 2.5-game division lead over the Twins.
But one of the most eye-popping revelations of late has been the Guardians’ panache for run-scoring and run-limiting.
What’s behind the great play?
In their last three games, the Guardians have scored 16 runs.
It’s reminiscent of a four-game stretch back in July when the Guardians scored a total of 31 runs against the Tigers and White Sox en route to a four-game win streak.
The Guardians and Cavs are so similar right now. Both teams have super-talented young cores, rosters with good guys who are easy to cheer for, and both in the early stages of building championship-caliber teams. Really exciting time to be a fan!#ForTheLand #LetEmKnow pic.twitter.com/LBKFLPF5Xs
— 1st Place Guardians (@OurCLEGuardians) August 14, 2022
The Guardians have also gotten key production from some familiar names.
Amed Rosario and Josh Naylor both had multi-hit games recently.
But so too did Austin Hedges and Nolan Jones.
Hedges, for his part, is batting .214 over his last four games, up from his .179 season total.
Three of his 23 total RBIs this season have come over the last four games, as well.
If Hedges can get hot, it’ll go a long way towards masking general weaknesses in the Guardians’ lineup.
And by hot, I don’t mean a José Ramirez-esque tear.
Hot by Hedges’ standards would simply be continuing to bat around .215, or at least keeping the figure above the Mendoza Line.
Taking Off The Pressure
Cleveland’s offense also benefits from major contributions by the pitching staff.
Over the last eight games, Cleveland’s pitchers have a combined ERA of 1.50, having given up just twelve runs.
They’re limiting opposing batters to fewer than six hits per game, as well, over that span, with an incredible 79 strikeouts.
Incredibly, every pitcher seems to be hitting their stride at exactly the same time.
It’s not like Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie are lighting things up, only for the bridge relievers to cough up the game.
Today will be the 14th time this season a rookie will make their debut for the Cleveland Guardians.
They are currently leading the AL Central by 2.5 games.
Terry Francona is a wizard 🤯#ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/GECsqeEbhn
— Barstool Cleveland (@BS_Cleveland) August 15, 2022
Or that the relievers are keeping things tight but back end started Aaron Civale and Cal Quantril are blowing it early.
No, every single Guardians pitcher is getting in on the fun.
McKenzie has given up just two runs over his last two starts (3.16 ERA on the season) as he slowly starts looking the part of an Opening Day starter.
Shane Bieber’s matched that same total over his last two games, with a 3.18 ERA on the season as he has slowly found his 2020 form.
Emmanuel Clase, Trevor Stephan, and James Karinchak are all looking good out of the bullpen, as well.
Here’s why that’s an excellent thing for Cleveland.
In the first round of the postseason, the Guardians are looking at a best-of-three first-round series.
And a one-two punch of Bieber and McKenzie would be a tough out.
The Guardians then only need to get hot and stay hot to continue their postseason run.
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