Guardians look to make a run in the playoffs

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

The Cleveland Guardians have made it to the playoffs in five of the last seven seasons, winning the pennant in 2016.
Last season, Cleveland fell one victory short of the American League Championship Series, losing to the Yankees in five games in the ALDS.
The only thing missing is a world championship, which the Guardians haven’t had since 1948.
Make no mistake, the goal is to win it all this season.
Back to lead the way is the third baseman, superstar Jose Ramirez, who signed a seven-year contract last season to keep him with the team for what could be the rest of his career. Last season, Ramirez hit .280 (.869 OPS) with 29 home runs and 126 RBIs. He’ll be joined in the infield by SS Amed Rosario, 2B Andres Gimenez and Josh Naylor and Josh Bell, who will rotate in at first base and as the designated hitter. Mike Zunino and Cam Gallagher will split time at catcher.
The center fielder is Myles Straw and he’s flanked by LF Steven Kwan and RF Oscar Gonzalez, who could see some competition from Will Brennan.
The Guardians have consistently had one of the lowest payrolls in baseball for the better part of a decade, yet they’ve competed at a high level. Cleveland is ranked 25th in payroll with $89.37 million. It’s a testament to the job done by the President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff.
That’s because the team develops pitchers as well as anyone in baseball. In recent years, the team has traded Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer and not missed a beat.
One of the game’s finest rotations features one of the game’s best pitchers in Shane Bieber. He’ll be joined by Cal Quantrill (15-5, 3.38 ERA), Zach Plesac (3-12, 4.31 ERA), Aaron Civale (5-6, 4.92 ERA) and Triston McKenzie (11-11, 2.96 ERA). Both McKenzie and Civale are on the IL.
Closer Emmanuel Clase, acquired in a trade from Texas in the Kluber deal, is one of the best in baseball. Clase was an All-Star last season, going 3-4 with a 1.36 ERA and 42 saves in 46 opportunities. He signed a five-year, $20 million deal at the beginning of last season. James Karinchak is the setup man, and the rest of the bullpen consists of Trevor Stephan, Tim Herrin, Xzavion Curry, Nick Sandlin, Eli Morgan, Enyel De Los Santos and Sam Hentges.
Terry Francona, now in his 11th season at the helm, is easily one of the best managers in baseball. His ability to mix and match, push the right buttons and earn the respect of his players has been the norm for the last decade. Francona, who also managed in Philadelphia and Boston, winning the World Series twice with the Red Sox, has a career record of 1,881-1,590 (.542) and will likely be in the Hall of Fame. With the Guardians, he is 852-675 (.558).
Many expect the Guardians to win the AL Central Division, but Minnesota could challenge, while Detroit, Chicago and Kansas City rebuild.


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