The AL Central champion Guardians are set to host the Rays for the 2022 Wild Card round — a best-of-three series that will be played entirely in Cleveland. They’ll turn to 2020 AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber to square off against Rays ace Shane McClanahan in the opener of today’s series. Here’s how the roster breaks down…
- Shane Bieber (Game 1 starter)
- Emmanuel Clase
- Enyel De Los Santos
- James Karinchak
- Triston McKenzie (Game 2 starter)
- Eli Morgan
- Zach Plesac
- Nick Sandlin
- Trevor Stephan
- Cal Quantrill (Game 3 starter)
Right-hander Aaron Civale is a notable but understandable absence, given that he tossed six innings and threw 84 pitches in the final regular-season game of the year just two days ago. One would imagine that if Cleveland advances, he’d factor into the ALDS, considering the manner in which he rebounded following a disastrous start to the season. Over his final 13 starts, Civale worked to a 3.55 ERA with a 25.9% strikeout rate against a 4.9% walk rate.
Somewhat remarkably, the Cleveland postseason roster will feature four late-season call-ups who each have fewer than 100 career plate appearances in the Majors. Each of Will Brennan, Will Benson, Gabriel Arias and Bo Naylor was selected to the MLB for the first time on Aug. 1 or later — Oct. 1 in Naylor’s case. Both Naylor and Arias have drawn fanfare on Top 100 prospect rankings around the industry, though the latter’s stock dipped in 2022 with a rough season in Triple-A. The inclusion of Bo Naylor on the roster makes for a feel-good story, as he and older brother Josh have now not only both reached the big leagues and played in the postseason, but done so as teammates.
The bulk of young and untested players is both a reflection of ownership’s annual payroll constraints and a testament to the organization’s exceptional player development prowess. Few pegged the Guardians, who entered the season as the game’s youngest team, as postseason contenders. While it’s true that the AL Central is generally regarded as the game’s weakest division, Cleveland still not only toppled more veteran Minnesota and Chicago clubs that were expected to vie for the division crown but did so handily, closing out the regular season with a whopping 11-game lead over the second-place White Sox.