February 27, 2024

The Guardians Rotation Question and a Possible Answer

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The Guardians have a very interesting decision to make when it comes to their starting rotation and it could require them to move some of their starters to the bullpen.

You know the backstory. Before the season, Triston McKenzie was placed on the 60-day IL and just recently made his first rehab start at Triple-A Columbus against the St. Paul Saints. Recovering from a shoulder injury, “Dr Sticks” will make his third start this week. In his two starts already, McKenzie has pitched just over seven innings, with an ERA of 4.91, a WHIP of 1.50 and 10 strikeouts. He is expected to return to the Big Leagues following his third start on Tuesday. Guardians manager Terry Francona has stated that he’d like to see Sticks throw 85 or so pitches in his final start on Tuesday.

Another Guardians’ regular starter is down at Triple-A Columbus as well, as Aaron Civale was sent to the 15-day IL for an oblique injury. In his three starts in Columbus, Civale has thrown in 11 innings, with a 4.91 ERA, a WHIP of 1.55 and 16 K’s. Both Civale and Triston McKenzie are expected to return to Cleveland within the next two weeks. But what does that mean for the Guardians’ current rotation?

The return of McKenzie and Civale raises two main questions. 1) Will a starter have to be moved to the bullpen? 2) If so, which starter will it be? The performances of Logan Allen and Tanner Bibee have been nothing short of incredible for the two rookies, as they were called up following the injuries to the two pitchers. Allen, who is 24, has started in seven games so far this season. With a record of 2-2, he has pitched in 39 innings, with an ERA of 2.72 and a WHIP of 1.31, and 43 K’s. Bibee, who is also 24, has started in six games this year so far. Innings-wise, he has played in 34, with an ERA of 2.88 and a WHIP of 1.08, as well as 34 strikeouts.

The excellent performances of both Allen and Bibee make for a difficult choice for the Guardians and pitching coach Carl Willis, who may have to make a decision to send a current starter to the bullpen, or send Allen and Bibee down to Columbus. It’s likely that they decide to keep Allen and Bibee in Cleveland, and look to move Cal Quantrill to the bullpen, who has had a tough season thus far in 10 starts. The Canadian has pitched in 55 innings, with a 4.15 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and striking out batters 31 times. However, if Quantrill were moved to the bullpen, a current reliever would have to be either traded, DFA’d, or optioned to Columbus.

The Guardians have a tough question to answer when it comes to their starting rotation, but with as much success as they’ve seen from their rookie starters, tough is a good thing.

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