As the MLB trade deadline wrapped up, the Cleveland Guardians held a glimmer of hope for securing a spot in the playoffs. But a lackluster performance in September, closing with a 4-4 record, has almost quashed any remnants of that hope.
Currently standing at 68-74, they lag behind the Minnesota Twins by 6.5 games in the American League West. And their playoff journey seems even bleaker with the Toronto Blue Jays leading them by 10.5 games, and teams like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Texas Rangers also leapfrogging them in the wild card standings.
The recent loss to a young Los Angeles Angels squad — missing the talents of Shohei Ohtani — has further darkened their playoff dreams. Leading by a narrow margin of 2-1, the Guardians' defense crumbled in the bottom of the ninth, letting in two runs.
Fuzzy's Harsh Guardians Critique
MLB Podcaster Fuzzy pulled no punches in his recent review of the game, dubbing the "2023 Guardians team the most pathetic" he's seen in recent memory. Notably, Fuzzy spared Josh Naylor from his critique but suggested the rest of the offense and bullpen require an overhaul.
Specifically, Fuzzy didn't mince words about pitcher Emmanuel Clase's underwhelming performance in the ninth inning, labeling him "the most hittable relief pitcher in baseball right now". This season has been rough for Clase, with a record of 2-8 and an ERA of 3.06, emphasized by his allowance of four hits and two runs against the Angels.
But the challenges for Terry Francona's Guardians this year aren't just about a single game or player. The overarching issue has been their offense. Despite beginning the year with one of MLB's better rotations, their bats have been largely silent.
Fuzzy quipped about the Guardians GM's decisions, noting he's "the same guy who traded away Yandy Diaz, Nolan Jones, Yainer Diaz, and Will Benson." This rings true as the team is languishing at 28th in the league with runs scored (576).
Only the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics have had worse luck. The Guardians also find themselves at the bottom when it comes to home runs (106) and aren't faring much better in team OPS (.691) and OBP (.312). The team, which saw playoff action in five of the past seven seasons, now stands on the precipice. If they can't turn things around, a serious revamp, especially in their offense, might be on the cards for 2024.