How was your Week

Posted: September 24, 2022 by Sports Time Radio in sports

Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees has dominated the baseball headlines and with the season he’s having and the fact that he plays for a New York team that’s understandable. Judge should be the runaway winner of the American League Most Valuable Player award even though there are still people trying to sell Shohei Otani for that award. Now I’ve been through this a time or two before on here, so I’d like to go a different route and discuss an actual team that no one thought they’d be where they are right now.

I’d like to give some props to the Cleveland Guardians. I don’t think I saw a prediction at the start of the baseball season that had the Guardians higher than 3rd place, but yet here they are with 11 games left in their regular season in 1st place with an 8-game lead in the American League Central. There were a few people who had the Minnesota Twins winning this division, but I believe the majority of people had the Chicago White Sox as the division winner, but it’s been all Cleveland lately.

The Guardians just faced off against the Twins and the White Sox in 9 games and they went 7-2 against them. In a five-game series against Minnesota the Guardians lost just one game and then just this week Cleveland came into Chicago and swept a three-game series with the White Sox. Both these series were the last time that either the Twins or the White Sox would face Cleveland this season, so if they were going to make up any ground that was the time to do it and neither team could.

The Guardians are currently in a three-game series against the Texas Rangers, they won Game 1 of that series last night 6-3. After this series against the Rangers the Guardians return home to wrap up their season. Cleveland will host the Tampa Bay Rays for three games before the Kansas City Royals come into Cleveland for a 6-game series to end the regular season.

What’s made the Guardians season interesting is that they don’t have pone player putting up gaudy numbers to draw your attention to them, but instead they have multiple players having quality seasons and, in some cases, you had never heard of these guys coming into this season.

It clear that Jose Ramirez is still the best player on the Guardians roster, but players like Amed Rosario and Andre Gimenez have both played well.

Rosario and Gimenez were acquired by Cleveland in the trade that sent Francisco Lindor to the New York Mets and there were questions if Cleveland got enough in return for Lindor, but it’s paid off for them this season.

Josh Naylor has also produced for Cleveland this season and while Miles Straw isn’t hitting for a high average is he one of the top defensive centerfielders in baseball and should get some Gold Glove consideration.

Both Naylor and Straw were looked at as failed prospects when the Guardians acquired them. Naylor is on his third team after being drafted in the 1st round by the Miami Marlins in 2015 while Straw is on his second team after being dealt by the Houston Astros to the Guardians July 30th, 2021, in return for Phil Maton and Yainer Diaz.

You also can’t look past the season Steven Kwan has had. Kwan is hitting .296 through 137 games this season, but Kwan is doing something that most major league players no longer do. Kwan has struck out 54 times this season, but he’s walked 59 times. There are very few players in baseball today that walk more than they strikeout, but Kwan is one of them. Since Kwan hasn’t put up huge power numbers but has done well throughout the season it will be interesting to see how he fairs in the Rookie of the Year voting.

The Guardians have had some struggles at the back of their starting rotation like a lot of teams do, but there top three starting pitchers Shane Bieber, Tristan McKenzie and Cal Quantrill have been solid, but it’s clear that Cleveland’s saving grace has been the back end of their bullpen.

There are a lot of people who haven’t noticed yet, but Emmanuel Clause is one of if not the best closer in Major League Baseball. Clause has an ERA of 1.35 to go along with 38 saves and 68 strikeouts in 66 2/3rd innings. Clause has given up 2 runs in his last nine outings and both of those were in the same game. With as hard as he throws and with having good control, only 10 walks this season he’s the definite of lock down closer.

Now obviously there are pitchers who have to get the game to Clause and the Guardians have found a good mix in their bullpen to do that this season.

Trevor Stephan and San Hentges both have ERAs under 3.00 and James Karinchak has an ERA of 1.57. Stephan has appeared in 61 games while Hentges has pitched in 53 games this season. Karinchak missed some time earlier this season with injury and that has limited him to 33 appearances this season. All three have closed games when Clause needed a day off. Karinchak has 3 saves while Stephan has 2 saves and Hentges has notched 1 save this season.

Now it’s unclear how Cleveland will do come playoff time, but they’ll get to host the lowest seeded wild card team in a best of three game series with all of the games being played in Cleveland.

Under MLB’s new playoff format there is no travel in the opening round of the playoffs and as of right now it would be the Seattle Mariners who would be facing the Guardians in the wild card round.

Honestly, I’m not expecting the Guardians to win the World Series and I’m not even sure if they’ll get out of the wild card round of the playoffs, but they’ve definitely been the biggest surprise team for me this season.

How about you, what your biggest surprise from this baseball season?

Don’t forget that you can find me on Twitter @Burketime

  1. Judge, without question should be the unanimous choice in the AL for MVP. Cleveland certainly has been a surprise and, because of the home field advantage, might win the best of three opening round. But their Cinderella story will come to a rapid close after that, I’m afraid.


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