The Cleveland Guardians are hot, winners of 16 of their last 20 games after this weekend’s series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, in which the Guardians took two of three games. This was after a sweep over the Colorado Rockies on a western road trip.
Cleveland has won six straight series. For a team that was expected to be a cellar dweller heading into the 2022 MLB season, this has been quite the stretch and the Guardians overall have enjoyed a strong season.
Even in a weak AL Central Division, the Guardians were not expected to do much. They came into the season +1000 to win the division, trailing the favored Chicago White Sox (-200), the Minnesota Twins (+400) and Detroit Tigers (+700). Their World Series odds were also quite high at +6000 at most Ohio sportsbooks, including Caesars Ohio.
Through 62 games the Guardians have defied these early season odds and have a record of 34-28, trailing the first-place Twins by one game in the division with a three-game series between Cleveland and Minnesota beginning Tuesday.
The White Sox, predicted to run away with the division by most bettors and oddsmakers, trail the Twins by 4.5 games.
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Pitching Leads the Way for Guardians
Cleveland’s pitching staff has been a driving force for the team's success. The Guardians rank seventh in the majors with a 3.58 team ERA that has been driven by both their starting five as well as their bullpen.
Shane Bieber is the ace and the 27-year-old starter has had a strong year with an ERA of 3.01 and a 3-3 record thus far.
The Guardians don’t have any pitchers in the top 20 in the league when it comes to ERA, but as a whole have had an excellent starting rotation with three pitchers in the top 35. Triston McKenzie and Cal Quantrill join Bieber with ERAs hovering around that 3.00 mark. Young closer Emmanuel Clase has 14 saves on the year, good for sixth in the league.
The entire unit has been strong, making up for the lack of a true elite stud although Bieber certainly has the tools to lead a rotation.
Ramirez Powers Offense
The offense has been excellent at getting on base but not quite as good at scoring runs, a trend that will need to turn around if the team wants to make a run at the division title and a playoff spot. The offense clearly is built around stud Jose Ramirez.
The 29-year-old third baseman is enjoying a stellar season, ranking second in the league in RBIs, 10th in home runs with 16 and 14th in batting average with a .307 mark. Everything runs through him and he is more than capable of carrying the load. He leads the team in every meaningful offensive statistic.
Rookie Steven Kwan has had a promising start to his MLB career as well, hitting .271 over his first 166 plate appearances. Kwan, Amed Rosario and Owen Miller are among those tasked with providing some secondary offense after Ramirez.
The lineup as a whole won’t overpower opponents but the players consistently get on base and wear opposing pitches and defenses out. As the season goes on, their run totals should continue to climb especially as some of the younger studs get accustomed to MLB pitching.
Guardians Still a Longshot
The recent hot streak has undoubtedly helped the Guardians' positioning in the division, but at their current odds of +370 they are still considered long shots to end the season on top.
The World Series odds are also very long, with Cleveland sitting at +9000.
With the division so weak overall and Chicago showing signs of having a bad year, this is the perfect chance for the Guardians to blow expectations out of the water and have a great finish to the season.