Inbox: What moves are next for Guardians?

June 13th, 2022

CLEVELAND — The Guardians will hit the road on Tuesday in hopes of extending their record to three games above .500 for the first time in the 2022 season.

What does the future hold for the club for the remainder of the season? Let’s try our best to make some guesses:

Who gets sent down when Aaron Civale comes back? Will it make any difference if Konnor Pilkington is really good in his next start? [email protected]

Unfortunately for Pilkington, it probably won’t make a difference. The Guardians need to see if Civale can get himself back on track now that he’ll be healthy and the only way to do that is to throw him back in the rotation. Maybe with some of the doubleheaders coming up, Pilkington can make his way back up with the team to make a start (or multiple) as the 27th man, but it’s most likely he’ll be the one to go when Civale is back.

Does Franmil Reyes get everyday playing time when he comes back? Who is the odd man out? [email protected]

This is where things get a little more challenging. Oscar Gonzalez was the one to take Reyes’ roster spot when he was sidelined with hamstring tightness. If Gonzalez came up and struggled, it’d be easy to say it’d be time to send him back down to Triple-A to get some more reps in. But Gonzalez has been one of the hottest hitters in the Guardians’ lineup and has earned the right to stay on the active roster. That leaves either sending Richie Palacios to Triple-A or designating Oscar Mercado for assignment to clear space for Reyes to be added back to the 26-man roster. Palacios has done enough to hang around the big league team, but is the club ready to officially cut ties with Mercado? That decision will be coming sooner rather than later.

Will Brennan is red hot in Columbus. Should the Guardians bring him up? Steven Kwan, Gonzalez and Palacios have been great. Mercado’s days may be numbered… [email protected]

Clearly, we agree that Mercado may be in a tough spot. And I agree that Kwan, Gonzalez and Palacios have all earned the right to have more time in the big leagues. But also adding Myles Straw and a backup option in Reyes in the corners to the mix makes it difficult to find room for Brennan on the roster. For now, my guess is he’ll stay in Triple-A, considering he was just promoted. If he continues to tear the cover off the ball, it may make it more difficult to ignore him. But he’ll need some more time with Columbus before getting that first callup to the Majors.

Will Amed Rosario be on the team after the Trade Deadline? [email protected]

There’s no way of knowing for sure, but if we’re making early guesses, my prediction would be no. If Rosario starts consistently hitting like the way he did last season, it may be harder to part ways, especially since Gabriel Arias‘ big league timeline was slowed down due to a hand injury. But eventually, the Guardians will need to free some space up the middle in order to have guys like Arias, Tyler Freeman or Brayan Rocchio get a legitimate chance to showcase what they can bring to the table. It will all depend on whether Cleveland can get something in return for Rosario that the club deems worthwhile. If so, it wouldn’t be surprising if that move is made.

Who do you think is the next big pitcher, outside of Daniel Espino? [email protected]

It seems like the next easiest answer to this question, but Gavin Williams has my vote. Since Spring Training started a little later than anticipated, I was able to spend some time at Minor League camp early in March and he caught everyone’s attention.

If Nolan Jones is going to find a spot in the lineup, what position is his best bet? [email protected]

Well, it can’t be third base anymore, considering Jos? Ram?rez will be there for the foreseeable future. For now, it seems as though they’re going to focus on right field with Jones. If he gets up to the Majors, look for him in a corner outfield spot (probably right).

Is Gonzalez the real deal? [email protected]

The Guardians are certainly hoping so, but unfortunately it’s too early to really know for sure. The biggest red flag is his reputation of being ultra aggressive at the plate. So far, it hasn’t hindered him at the Major League level, but inevitably his numbers will start to fall (at least below a .400 average). His history of struggling mightily with strikeout rates — getting fanned 112 times in 121 games between Double-A and Triple-A last year — is concerning for his long-term success in the big leagues. The positive is this two-week stretch that Gonzalez has had to start his big league career proves what he’s capable of and will always be something for him to fall back on when he begins to struggle. It seems as though everyone is more optimistic about the possibility of his future now than they were heading into Spring Training, but it’s up to him to prove that he is the real deal.

Josh Naylor has a visible limp and seems to struggle with base running. Is he in constant pain from his injury last year? Will his limp and ability to run improve more? [email protected]_painter

When Naylor was cleared to join the Guardians before their home opener on April 15 after starting the year in Triple-A to ease his way back into regular game action, manager Terry Francona made a point of saying that Naylor will limp from time to time as he works his way back from a really gruesome injury. It’s not that he’s in constant pain, but he certainly has to be more delicate than he had been in the past and has a tremendous amount of work with the trainers to make sure he keeps himself in a good spot. One would assume that it would get better with time, but it’s hard to know considering there haven’t been many players to have gone through an injury like Naylor’s.