Projecting the Guardians Rotation for 2023

Despite boasting the youngest roster in all of Major League Baseball last season, the Cleveland Guardians won the AL Central after outlasting the Twins and White Sox in the summer. Cleveland is well-positioned to repeat as division champions, thanks to a strong rotation. Here’s a look at how it shakes out for 2023.

Related: Projecting the Rockies Rotation in 2023

A Look at the Guardians Rotation Options

  1. RHP Shane Bieber (13-8, 2.88 ERA, 8.9 K/9 in 2022)
  2. RHP Triston McKenzie (11-11, 2.96 ERA, 8.9 K/9)
  3. RHP Cal Quantrill (15-5, 3.38 ERA, 6.2 K/9)
  4. RHP Zach Plesac (3-12, 4.31 ERA, 6.8 K/9)
  5. RHP Aaron Civale (5-6, 4.92 ERA, 9.1 K/9)

Much like in 2022, the Guardians are set to roll out virtually an entirely homegrown rotation for the 2023 campaign. Leading the charge is former AL Cy Young award winner Shane Bieber, who won 13 games and struck out 198 batters over 200 innings for Cleveland. Bieber has emerged as one of the game’s best, thanks to a plus slider and a change of pace curveball. Despite a dip in fastball velocity in recent years, the 27-year-old still ranks as an elite hurler.

Behind Bieber should be right-hander Triston McKenzie, who broke last season with the Guardians. A year after he posted a 4.95 ERA and a below-average 11.7% BB% rate. the Brooklyn native turned in an impressive 2022 campaign. McKenzie came through in a big way in the second half of the 2022 season. The righty struck out 94 over 90 innings and pitched to the tune of a 2.70 ERA.

While Bieber and McKenzie were the Guardians’ top two arms last year, RHP Cal Quantrill led the team in wins (15 last season. The Team Canada starter did the job without blowing away hitters away in 2022, a year in which Quantrill posted the sixth-lowest K/9 (6.2) rate in baseball (min. 125 IP). Quantrill does a good job of inducing weak contact, thanks a sinker that can get ground balls, as well as a cutter that he used to work hitters out of the zone.

RHP Zach Plesac emerged as a emerging arm for Cleveland in 2020-21, but has been much more hittable over the last two seasons. The right-hander has posted a 4.49 ERA across 274.1 IP between 2021-22.

The probable fifth starter the Guardians should be RHP Aaron Civale, who recorded a 4.92 ERA just one year after a solid 12-5 campaign for Cleveland. Civale posted his best K/9 rate (9.1) of his career in 2022, thanks to a dominant curveball. However, hitters had a much easier time squaring up his stuff overall in 2022. Like Plesac, Civale did deal with injury problems last year.

Should any injuries arise, Cleveland pitchers Xzavion Curry, Cody Morris, and Konnor Pilkington could all be potential options. All three did see varying time in the Guardians rotation in 2022.

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