Who will fill out the Guards' starting rotation?

March 18th, 2024

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Guardians had enough to worry about when it came to filling their bullpen or determining a starting shortstop and right fielder.

Now, they have to figure out their rotation, too.

There's at least some good news here: This should just be a temporary replacement. The Guardians are hopeful that Gavin Williams will begin his throwing progression soon after missing a week and a half due to elbow discomfort. Once he starts, it shouldn't take too much time into the regular season to get him back to full strength.

Still, the Guardians need to bridge the gap until he's ready. Five candidates fit the mold to take that spot. Let's examine why each may or may not be the answer for the Opening Day roster.

Let's start with Curry because his tremendous year in 2023 was more than enough to earn him a roster spot again this season. He adapted to every role the Guardians gave him and was arguably the unsung hero of a very quiet season. The problem is he might not be ready in time, either.

Curry could be a great option out of the bullpen again in '24. But the Guardians' starting pitching depth is extremely thin without Cal Quantrill or Cody Morris as a part of the roster. The team would benefit from having an arm like Curry ready in Triple-A should another injury like Williams' pop up during the season.

So why not have him take that spot now? Well, Curry is one of the many guys in this clubhouse battling a virus. He pitched last Sunday and is just now getting back into long toss. His first bullpen is slated to happen in the coming days, but because he's had this setback, it's hard to imagine he'll be the best starting option for the Guardians in just 11 days.

Carrasco is in the race. He's been healthy this spring and continues getting stretched to a starter's pitch count. He and Triston McKenzie were both scheduled to pitch on Saturday. McKenzie worked the Cactus League game in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Carrasco started in the Minor League game against the Reds, where he struck out four batters and allowed one unearned run in 3 1/3 innings.

As much as Carrasco would be the most heart-warming option, considering his history as a starting pitcher with this organization, that doesn't mean it's the automatic answer. The Guardians need to figure out who can be the most effective option for them to start the season on the best note. A week ago, Carrasco was the best choice given the circumstances in camp. Now, there's at least one other name in the hat.

Enter Beede.

Beede has had a solid spring camp for the Guardians but hadn't jumped out as the clear-cut sixth starter -- that was until Friday.

In his last outing against the Royals during a rainy game in Surprise, Ariz., Beede dazzled through five scoreless frames, allowing just three hits with one walk and three strikeouts. This was the attention-grabbing outing needed when a position is up for grabs, and Beede took advantage of his opportunity.

"It's exactly what we wanted to see from him," Guardians manager Stephen Vogt said. "He threw 60 pitches, five innings. He attacked the zone. He put guys away. It was a really good day for Tyler."

Lively is in the same questionable health position as Curry. Lively missed a chunk of spring because of the same virus and may not have enough time left to build up to being ready to start. At the beginning of camp, it was clear how highly the organization thought of the righty and he easily could've slipped in to be an extra starter. Now, he may need to start the year in the bullpen if he ends up on the big league roster.

Gaddis has avoided the health bug so far and has been reliable for the Guardians all spring, but the last few of his outings have been limited to just one inning in relief. When Vogt was asked about it, the answer indicated that he's more of a relief option.

"We've lengthened him out a little bit," Vogt said. "How best for him to build up for what role he could end up having, we're trying to figure that out with him."