2024 cleveland guardians o/u

2024 Cleveland Guardians O/U: How Guardians Hit Over

The Cleveland Guardians are ushering in a new era, turning to first-year manager Stephen Vogt to help them return to American League (AL) Central Division contention following a 2023 season that saw the team start well before tumbling to a 76-86 record and third-place divisional finish.

2024 Cleveland Guardians O/U: How Cleveland Hits the OVER

Past History

One of the AL’s founding teams, the Guardians (formerly Indians) did not perform well in the early 2010s. Then, from 2013 to 2023, their fortunes changed thanks to the leadership of future Hall-of-Fame manager Terry Francona and an improved player-development system that has become one of the best in the league at developing prospects into quality Major Leaguers.

Francona, the manager of the Boston Red Sox teams that won World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, had similar success over his decade in Cleveland. Behind stellar pitching and defense with just enough offensive support, Francona’s squads earned multiple playoff appearances. Yet, he came up short of helping this club break its World Series drought, which dates back to 1948. In 2016, the Chicago Cubs beat Cleveland in the World Series, breaking their hundred-year-plus title drought in a hard-fought championship series that came down to a dramatic, deciding seventh game.

As a small-market team, the Guardians have managed to remain competitive by making difficult decisions to jettison key players, trading Francisco Lindor to the New York Mets in 2021 and Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers two years earlier in exchange for players who are now core contributors on their current roster.

Reasons For Optimism

As a result, rookie boss Vogt, a fan-favorite catcher during his recent playing days, will not have to worry about late-game situations as Emmanuel Clase, part of the Kluber trade, is one of the top closers in Major League Baseball (MLB). Additionally, Andrés Gimenéz, acquired in exchange for Lindor, is a one-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove-winning second baseman. Gimenéz will help anchor the Guardians’ lineup alongside the face of the franchise, José Ramirez, one of the best third basemen in the league.

The team also has a strong starting rotation. Former AL Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber remains part of the squad despite the ace pitcher’s name appearing in frequent offseason trade rumors due to his rising salary and the fact that he is entering his final year before free agency. The Guardians possess immense quality beyond Bieber as Triston McKenzie looks to recapture his stellar 2022 form after an injury-riddled 2023 campaign, while Gavin Williams, Tanner Bibee, and Logan Allen are three second-year starters hoping to improve on impressive rookie seasons.


While Cleveland’s starting rotation looks solid, its bullpen seems more concerning as key set-up relievers Trevor Stephen and James Karinchak are already dealing with arm injuries that jeopardize their status for the season’s start. Thus, the Guardians might have to rely on others to bridge the gap from starting pitcher to Clase.

Additionally, the team’s hitters are mostly the same as last year’s group, which generally struggled to score enough to stay in contention. The club did not do much during the offseason, only signing free-agent catcher Austin Hedges, who will back up potential breakout candidate Bo Naylor, starting first baseman Josh Naylor’s younger brother.

Aside from starting left-fielder Steven Kwan, their outfielders struggled offensively the past couple of seasons. One hope is that Vogt’s former Oakland Athletics teammate, outfielder Ramón Laureoano, can find a way to regain the potential he showed before his 2021 steroid suspension. Lastly, highly touted infielders Gabriel Arias and Brayan Rocchio are ahead of a pack of youngsters battling for the open shortstop position. While Arias may be the frontrunner because of his more extensive MLB experience, this position could be assumed by many different players as Cleveland tries to figure out its best option.

Overall Assessment

Even with all the offensive, relief, and new manager question marks, it remains likely that the Guardians will win more than 79 games, the preseason over/under benchmark that oddsmakers established. Vogt has long been considered a future manager due to his immense likeability and ability to motivate those around him.

While there may be some early bumps in the road, this team led by Bieber and Ramirez has enough talent to win 80 or more games with the potential for more if their young pitchers avoid injuries and if they get bounceback or breakout seasons from some of the hitters mentioned above.

It helps that the AL Central may be the weakest division in the league as the Minnesota Twins were the only division winners last year to win less than 90 games, and they proceeded to lose key talent this winter. Knowing this organization, if they fall out of contention around midseason, a healthy Bieber will likely be one of the biggest prizes for other teams to acquire at this summer’s Trade Deadline.

Main Image: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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