The Cleveland Guardians will be looking to defend their AL Central crown in 2023 after finishing 11 games ahead of the Chicago White Sox last season. The Guardians won 92 games last campaign, and they will start this season on the road with a trip to Seattle for a three-game series against the Mariners. A weird scheduling quirk means that the Guardians and Mariners will get very familiar over the first couple of weeks of the season as Seattle heads to Cleveland for the Guardians home opened on Friday, April 7. That is part of another three-game series before the New York Yankees travel to Progressive Field for a series that begins on Monday, April 10. A full look at the Guardians’ home schedule for the first half of the season can be found below.
Here are three questions for the Guardians ahead of the 2023 season.
Three Key Questions
Can the Guardians maintain success?
The Guardians were a cool story in 2022. They overachieved in their first year with the new name, riding a wave of momentum and fan support to a division title. Maintaining that success, however, could be tough. The balanced schedule means they will play 14 more games against teams with winning records from 2022 than last year. They will also play 22 fewer games in the relatively underpowered AL Central, potentially cutting down on the win total while making each of those games more important. Sustaining success is difficult, will the Guardians manage it?
Does Myles Straw rebound?
The Guardians are young. They had 17 rookies make debuts on the diamond last year, and while some of those players have moved on, others will be expected to be major contributors. That is why players with more big-league experience have to do their part. Straw a Gold Glove last year for his unreal defense in center field. The probable was that his batting numbers fell off a cliff. his .221/.291/.273 slash line was a major step down from his career numbers of .247/.322/.313. That the Guardians were able to put together such a great season with Straw struggling at the plate says a lot about the mentality of this team. Straw was much better down the stretch, which needs to continue into 2023.
Will new rules surrounding stolen bases win the Guardians extra games?
This one is interesting. The Guardians had 119 steals last season. That was good for second in the AL They stole bases so well because the team isn’t limited to one or two guys who can run. The Guardians had five players – led by Straw with 21 – that stole 18 or more bases in 2022. Now, thanks to a couple of rule changes, base stealing will become easier. Based have been increased in size from 15 inches to 18 inches. It might not seem like much, but when you consider how many steal attempts are caught by a matter of inches, it will add up.
Pitchers are also limited to just two pickoff attempts – MLB is trying to speed up the game – so expect the Guardians to notch at least half a dozen extra wins by their willingness – and talent- at running bases.