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Guardians set to face Shohei Ohtani and Angels in 2021 Little League Classic

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Live from Williamsport, which awkwardly isn’t an affiliate city anymore

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Detroit Tigers Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

After being wiped out last year, the 2021 Little League Classic will feature some familiar faces on Sunday night.

Shohei Ohtani, have you seen this guy? He can do everything. I’m sure Mike Trout will make a video appearance or something, too. Justin Upton — remember when he was good? Dylan Bundy!? OK, you’ll probably recognize a Guardians player or two as well, but the Angels, as they have been for years, are filled with well-known players from past and present yet still can’t find a way to win consistently.

Trout hasn’t played since May due to a calf injury and has just recently started on-field activities. The future Hall of Famer was on an incredible pace before his legs betrayed him — a .333/.466/.624 slash and 193 wRC+ would have been career-highs across the board, and he had eight home runs through 36 games. If the Angels were in the heat of a playoff race it might make sense to get him back as soon as possible, but sitting 7.5 games back of the Wild Card and virtually no shot at the AL West title, it might behoove the Angels to just let him rest until 2022. Either way, he won’t be playing this weekend.

Ohtani, on the other hand, sure as heck will. He has utterly taken the game by storm as one of baseball’s best pitchers and hitters. As a batter, he leads all of MLB in home runs (40), and he’s second in wRC+ (168) with a .272/.367/.648 slash. And, oh yeah, he’s also stolen 18 bases. Sure, why not.

The Guardians won’t be facing the two-way phenom as a pitcher this weekend, but he sports a 2.79 ERA and 29.6% strikeout rate on the mound. If you don’t watch a lot of non-Cleveland baseball and somehow missed the Guards’ first series against the Angels, you owe it to yourself to watch this weekend and keep an eye on this generation’s Babe Ruth.

On Sunday, the Guardians will take part in their first Little League Classic wearing these Great Lakes jerseys which are pretty ... great. Cal Quantrill is expected to start Sunday, according to Mandy Bell, though the team hasn’t officially cemented their weekend starters yet.

Before they get there though, the Guardians will open their three-game set against the Angels with a bullpen game on Friday night. Sam Hentges will take the mound for his third straight (mostly) on-schedule start. He pitched two innings in each of his previous two starts and allowed three earned runs against the Tigers his last time out.

Triston McKenzie gets the ball in game two after flirting with perfection in his last outing in which he dominated the Tigers over eight innings with a career-high 11 strikeouts and just one hit. The young pitcher has been inconsistent at times this season, but he already has four scoreless outings in which he’s pitched five or more innings this season. When he’s on, he’s on.

Let’s hope he’s on.

Team at a glance

  • Record: 62-61 (9th in AL)
  • Runs Scored: 563 (7th in AL)
  • Run Differential: -42 (10th in AL)
  • Last 10: 5-5
  • Slash: .252/.314/.422
  • wOBA: .317 (7th in AL)
  • wRC+: 102 (8th in AL)
  • ERA: 4.66 (11th in AL)
  • SIERA: 4.15 (8th in AL)
  • K-BB%: 14.6% (9th in AL)

Projected starters

Friday, Aug. 20, 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP Jaime Barria vs. TBD (Sam Hentges)
Saturday, Aug. 21, 4:10 p.m. ET: LHP Reid Detmers vs. TBD (Triston McKenzie)
Sunday, Aug. 22, 7:10 p.m. ET: LHP José Suarez vs. TBD (Cal Quantrill)

Hot hitters

DH/OF/P/RN/CDL Certified/PHD/ESQ., Shohei Ohtani - Come on, of course it’s Ohtani. He’s second on the Angels with nine hits over the last week and is tied for the team lead with two home runs. He’s also drawn five walks, second only to Jared Walsh in that span.

CF, Brandon Marsh - Rookie Brandon Marsh has yet to homer in the majors, but the 23-year-old isn’t without extra-base hits. Over the last week alone he leads the Angels with 11 hits, including two triples and a double. Two of those came Thursday in the Angels’ shootout win over the Tigers.

Roster

Poll

How many games will the Guardians win against the Angels?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    3
    (6 votes)
  • 22%
    2
    (15 votes)
  • 52%
    1
    (35 votes)
  • 16%
    0
    (11 votes)
67 votes total Vote Now