Guardians' Clase Makes MLB History in First 53 Games

Guardians' standout pitcher faces challenges, shows resilience.

by Abdullah Magsi
Guardians' Clase Makes MLB History in First 53 Games
© Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Cleveland Guardians' closer Emmanuel Clase has made an unprecedented mark in MLB history with his stellar performance in the opening stretch of the 2024 season. As the first pitcher to achieve such a feat, Clase has notched 17 or more saves with a remarkable ERA below 0.33, coupled with two or fewer walks in the team's first 53 games.

His precision and control on the mound have set a new benchmark in baseball excellence. Clase's effectiveness in clutch situations has been a cornerstone of the Guardians' success this season. Out of 19 save opportunities, he has successfully converted 17, showcasing his reliability in high-pressure moments.

His recent performance included six saves over seven appearances, contributing significantly to the Guardians' commanding 36-17 record and their lead in the AL Central with a .679 winning percentage. In Sunday's series finale against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium, Clase demonstrated his calm under pressure.

Although he didn't add any strikeouts to his tally, he efficiently handled the Angels' lineup. Facing four batters in the ninth, he allowed only a single hit. Logan O'Hoppe managed a hit off Clase, but Mickey Moniak, Zach Neto, and Willie Calhoun were quickly dismissed, each succumbing to Clase's formidable cutters, clocked between 98 to 99 mph.

Clase's Rocky Road

The journey hasn't always been smooth for Emmanuel Clase. Acquired by the Guardians in 2019, he faced a significant setback in 2020, receiving an 80-game suspension for testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug Boldenone.

This suspension was later reduced to 60 games due to the shortened season caused by the pandemic. However, since his return, Clase has been on an upward trajectory. His comeback was highlighted by leading the league in saves for consecutive years in 2022 and 2023, earning All-Star honors in both seasons.

His standout 2022 season also saw him named the AL Reliever of the Year and a spot on the All-MLB First Team. Emmanuel Clase’s resurgence and sustained excellence have not only redeemed his early career challenges but have firmly established him as one of the premier closers in Major League Baseball.

As the season progresses, his historic start not only elevates his stature but also solidifies his role as a pivotal figure in the Guardians’ pursuit of championship glory.