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Guardians going international for four-game set against Blue Jays

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Luckily weather won’t be an issue this time around

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Houston Astros Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays will welcome a team to the Rodgers Center for just the second time this season. After a year of playing in minor-league stadiums due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Jays are home and welcoming the Cleveland Guardians for a four-game series.

This series also includes an odd start time for game one as it is a holiday for our neighbors up north. In Toronto, it is a holiday known as Simcoe Day in honor of the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. Other provinces and municipalities around Canada celebrate the holiday under different names and in different ways.

For baseball, this means that Robbie Ray and Eli Morgan will face off at 3:07 p.m. ET in game one of a series.

The Jays carry the unfortunate distinction as a team with a great run differential — outstanding hitting, solid pitching — but still middle-of-the-pack in the American League with a 54-48 record. They have an uphill battle to approach the Rays in the AL East, and even the Wild Card isn’t a guarantee for them.

They attempted to shore up their rotation even more with a trade deadline deal forJosé Berríos. He won’t face Cleveland in this series as he pitched a scoreless six innings in his Blue Jays debut on Sunday, but the 27-year-old has one more year in Toronto before he becomes a free agent.

Cleveland will have to find a way to slow down an offense that includes bonafide superstar Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and a seemingly endless stream of above-average to great hitters. Along with Vladdy, Marcus Semien, Bo Bichette, and Teoscar Hernandez have all amassed over 350 plate appearances and have wRC+’s north of 110 this season.

Second-year (but still technically a rookie) third baseman Santiago Espinal has made a name for himself with a .312/.362/.428 slash in his 60 games this year, and George Springer has been sensational since coming off the injured list on June 22. On the season — his first in a six-year, $150 million deal he signed in the offseason — Springer is slashing .266/.365/.586 with 11 home runs in 35 games.

The last time these two teams played started with a monsoon in Eli Morgan’s debut and ended with a doubleheader on May 30. The Guardians lost the first two games of the series but won game two of the doubleheader with the bullpen shutting things down after Sam Hentges allowed four earned runs in 2.1 innings.

Team at a glance

  • Record: 54-48 (7th in AL)
  • Runs Scored: 528 (3rd in AL)
  • Run Differential: +107 (4th in AL)
  • Last 10: 6-4
  • Slash: .265/.328/.458
  • wOBA: .338 (1st in AL)
  • wRC+: 113 (2nd in AL)
  • ERA: 3.92 (6th in AL)
  • SIERA: 3.93 (4th in AL)
  • K-BB%: 16.5% (4th in AL)

Projected starters

Monday, Aug. 2, 3:07 p.m. ET: LHP Robbie Ray vs. Eli Morgan
Robbie Ray is quietly setting himself up for a nice payday in the offseason. The 29-year-old is slated to hit the market after playing the last year in Toronto. He currently sports a career-best 3.04 ERA and he’s struck out 31.3% of the batters he has faced. The biggest change for Ray this year is that he dropped his walk rate from a gaudy 17.9% last year to 6.5% in 2021. If that holds, it would be his lowest walk rate of his career and his first time keeping it in the single digits since 2016.

Tuesday, Aug. 3, 7:07 p.m. ET: LHP Hyun Jin Ryu vs. Zach Plesac
The last time Cleveland face Hyun Jin Ryu, he struck out six batters en route to a victory. That was his third-highest strikeouts-per-nine of the season as Guardians batters could not make sense of his changeup. He shut the Red Sox out over six innings in his last outing.

Wednesday, Aug. 4, 7:07 p.m. ET: LHP Steven Matz vs. J.C. Mejia
Steven Matz was the starter in Toronto’s one loss against Cleveland as he allowed two earned runs (four total) in five innings. Matz is not a strikeout machine, but he does have one double-digit strikeout game this season. He was knocked around by the Red Sox on Wednesday to the tune of four earned runs in 3.1 innings.

Thursday, Aug. 5, 7:07 p.m. ET: RHP Ross Stripling vs. Triston McKenzie
The series will wrap up with Cleveland facing Ross Stripling, who dominated them over five innings the last time he faced them. That has been one of the very few bright spots for Stripling this season, as he currently carries a 4.75 ERA and has just one start (May 24 against the Rays) in which he hasn’t allowed at least one run.

Hot hitters

OF, George Springer - George Springer has been worth every penny for the Blue Jays so far, including 10 hits, five (count ‘em, five) doubles, and three home runs in his last seven games.

1B/DH, Vlad Guerrero Jr. - Not to be outdone by the newcomer, Vlad Guerrero Jr. has gone 8-for-23 in the last week with a double and a homer. He was also taped to his bench by his teammates, just ‘cause.

Roster

Poll

How many games will the Guardians win against the Blue Jays?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    4
    (6 votes)
  • 2%
    3
    (2 votes)
  • 28%
    2
    (20 votes)
  • 45%
    1
    (32 votes)
  • 15%
    0
    (11 votes)
71 votes total Vote Now