July 21, 2024

Gavin Williams is finally about to return to a major league mound, potentially helping the Cleveland Guardians prolong their recent run of home victories.

Meanwhile, the struggling Chicago White Sox continue to hunt for silver linings in an otherwise bleak season.

Williams makes his season debut as the Guardians look for their sixth consecutive home win over the White Sox on Wednesday in the middle game of a three-game series.

Following an excellent rookie season in 2023, in which Williams produced a 3.29 ERA and struck out 81 in 82 innings over 16 starts, the right-hander was projected to be a major member of Cleveland’s 2024 rotation. Then he hurt his right elbow during spring training, delaying his season.

After a strong rehab assignment in the minors, Williams is poised to help a Guardians rotation that has lost star Shane Bieber for the season, recently sent veteran Triston McKenzie down to Triple-A Columbus to work out his own troubles, and ranks at the bottom of the American League with a 4.42 ERA.

“(Williams has) built up his pitch volume, which was the most important thing,” Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. “Probably the most encouraging thing is he bounced back better and better each time.”

Williams was 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 17 innings between five starts for Columbus and one for Double-A Akron.

Williams, who will face Chicago for the first time, could be widely watched when he returns to the majors. However, the Guardians hope he will bring some consistency to one of the club’s weaker points.

“We think he’s at a point now where he’s able to help us win games at the major league level,” Antonetti joked.

With a 7-6 win in the series opener on Tuesday, the Guardians advanced to an AL-best 53-30 record. Tyler Freeman and youngster Daniel Schneemann each hit two-run home runs for Cleveland, which rallied after blowing two multi-run leads to move to 27-9 at home. The Guardians have scored 40 runs during their six-game home winning streak.

Cleveland is 4-4 this season against the White Sox, who have proven to be a difficult opponent for Stephen Vogt’s team despite being 39 games under.500 and 8-34 on the road.

Chicago’s Andrew Vaughn, who hit.337 with six home runs in June, went deep on Tuesday. Teammate Luis Robert Jr. hit a two-run homer and a two-run single in the loss, and he is 7-for-21 with three home runs and seven RBIs in his last five games.


Cleveland Guardians' Gavin Williams to make debut as No. 16 prospect


Meanwhile, projected White Sox starting Erick Fedde (5-3, 3.23 ERA) has been a notable bright spot. Fedde, who might be traded later this month, aims to build on an outstanding road trip in which he is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in his last three appearances outside of Chicago.

“We have the belief (Fedde) could be very successful here, and he’s obviously proving everybody right that he can be one of the top pitchers in baseball,” said pitching coach Ethan Katz, according to MLB.com.

Fedde, who was handicapped by a three-run third inning and allowed four runs through six frames against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 26, was roughed up in Cleveland on April 10. Bo Naylor hit a two-run homer, while Josh Naylor and Steven Kwan each hit a solo shot, as Fedde allowed five runs (four earned) in five-plus innings. He had three walks and three strikeouts.

Fedde, on the other hand, was simply outstanding against the Guardians at home on May 9, allowing only six hits and no walks in six scoreless innings in Chicago’s 3-2 triumph. He struck out three in that game, improving his career record against Cleveland to 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in three appearances (two starts).

Josh Naylor is batting.388 during an 18-game hitting streak against the White Sox, including a double on Tuesday.

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