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Guardians have a chance to prove recent success is real against Red Sox

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Can this team surprise everyone and make a last-minute run at the playoffs? It’s time to find out

MLB: AUG 26 Rangers at Indians Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

August hasn’t been kind to the Boston Red Sox.

After entering the month 64-42 (.604), firmly in second place in the AL East, and up in the AL Wild Card race, recent struggles have put them right in the middle of the action at 73-56 (.566) and narrowly hanging onto a Wild Card spot. This came after the Red Sox declared themselves all-in at the trade deadline by acquiring relievers Hansel Robles and Austin Davis, as well as outfielder Kyle Schwarber to help them chase down the Rays.

Boston has a brutal schedule for the rest of the season — aside from gimmes against the Orioles and Nationals — so if they want to hold onto their playoff spot they’ll need to start winning now. Their desperation could be trouble for Cleveland Guardians.

To their credit, the Guards have been surging, winning two straight and seven of their last 10. As much as I would like to believe in this current stretch of success (and as much as I’m happy they are beating the teams put in front of them), Cleveland hasn’t exactly been beating up on playoff teams. Their last eight wins have come against the Tigers, Angels, Twins, and most recently the Rangers.

They have been aided by a starting rotation looking like they’re finally putting it together and Bradley Zimmer discovering that his bat is actually a missile launcher as he has hit two of the longest Cleveland home runs in the past month alone. It also doesn’t hurt that Amed Rosario has a hit in 19 of his 22 games in August for a .372/.492/.564 slash.

If all of this recent success is real, the time to prove it is right now, against a team that will be doing everything they can to improve their playoff chances.

Game one tonight has the chance to be a barn-burner with lefties Eduardo Rodriguez and Logan Allen facing off. Neither pitcher has been particularly effective this season with a 5.19 and 9.13 ERA, respectively. Rodriguez has some reason to believe that positive regression is coming his way, though, as he also carries a 3.41 xFIP and he’s done a solid job limiting hard contact with his heavy fastball-changeup mix and an occasional slider. He’s just had trouble getting out of jams once runners get on base.

Logan Allen doesn’t have the underlying metrics of Rodriguez, but regression from a 9.13 has to happen, right? Right? Please?

Boston’s game two starter, Nathan Eovaldi, is in a similar position with an impressive 20% strikeout-to-walk ratio, 3.72 ERA, and 3.58 xFIP. His walk rate is one of the lowest in the majors and his high-90s fastball has been the perfect setup for his four other pitches. He will be facing off against Cal Quantrill — Cleveland’s defacto ace who struck out nine over seven innings in his last outing against the Angels.

Eli Morgan will start game three looking to bounce back from a rough outing against the Rangers in which he allowed four earned runs in 4.1 innings.

Team at a glance

  • Record: 73-56 (5th in AL)
  • Runs Scored: 655 (3rd in AL)
  • Run Differential: +62 (6th in AL)
  • Last 10: 5-5
  • Slash: .260/.326/.446
  • wOBA: .331 (3rd in AL)
  • wRC+: 106 (5th in AL)
  • ERA: 4.32 (7th in AL)
  • SIERA: 4.01 (5th in AL)
  • K-BB%: 15.8% (5th in AL)

Projected starters

Friday, Aug. 27, 7:10 p.m. ET: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Logan Allen
Saturday, Aug. 28, 4:05 p.m. ET: RHP Nathan Eovaldi vs. Cal Quantrill
Sunday, Aug. 29, 1:10 p.m. ET: TBD vs. Eli Morgan

Hot hitters

OF, Kyle Schwarber - Kyle Schwarber, who has no historical link to Cleveland whatsoever, has so far proven to be an excellent deadline addition for the Red Sox. In 10 games with Boston, he has 12 hits, four doubles, and a home run. And that’s after he slashed .253/.340/.570 with 25 home runs for the Nationals through the first half of the season. The 28-year-old clearly isn’t as washed as the Cubs hoped when they non-tendered him in the offseason.

OF, Alex Verdugo - I can recall a time when the Guardians were linked to the Dodgers and Alex Verdugo in past trade rumors, whether it was a deal for Corey Kluber or Francisco Lindor. He ended up getting sent to Boston in the Mookie Betts deal instead and has been a solid hitter for them the past season and a half. He leads Boston with 10 hits in the last week, including three doubles and a homer.

Roster

Poll

How many games will the Guardians win against the Red Sox?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    3
    (10 votes)
  • 25%
    2
    (23 votes)
  • 45%
    1
    (41 votes)
  • 17%
    0
    (16 votes)
90 votes total Vote Now