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Series preview: Guardians at Rays

Old friends become new foes

Detroit Tigers v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Guardians’ romp through the AL East continues this weekend with a three-game set against the most recent team in the division to play in a World Series — the Tampa Bay Rays.

While they aren’t the dumpster fire the Red Sox were coming into their series against the Guards, the Rays aren’t exactly surging into this one. They’re fresh off back-to-back series losses to the Royals and Orioles out of the All-Star break and looking for anyone to step up and fill in the many, many injuries they’ve had this season. So many injuries, in fact, that you could almost make a competitive team just with those on the injured list.

Catcher would be locked up with by Francisco Mejia and Mike Zunino, you have a future star in Wander Franco, and a whole-ass outfield consisting of Kevin Kiermaier, Manuel Margot, and Harold Ramirez. Pitching? How about top pitching prospect Shane Baz to go with Tyler Glasnow, and Brendan McKay?

I’m sure you won’t hear the Rays using it as an excuse, but I can. The fact that they can even field a team right now is pretty incredible, and they still have some hard hitters like Yandy Díaz, Brandon Lowe, Randy Arozarena, and Ji-Man Choi in the lineup. Some guy named Luke Raley (who I’m 99% certain is just a made-up player from a 2027 draft class on The Show) racking up seven hits over the last two weeks? Sure, why not.

The Rays are littered with former Guardians on their roster, such as the aforementioned Díaz, but none are bigger than Saturday’s starter Corey Kluber. Following a brilliant campaign in Texas where he didn’t allow a single run in his entire tenure, Kluber has settled into a high-3.00 ERA pitcher with the Yankees and Rays the last two seasons.

Kluber’s days of multiple double-digit strikeout games and Cy Young awards is long behind him, but he’s still a valuable back-end starter as he approaches 40 years old. That cutter/slider/whatever he started to really hone in 2017 has become his dominant pitch in his journeyman travels and he’s thrown it 34% of the time with the Rays this year. His four-seamer has virtually disappeared and his curveball — which served as his put-away pitch for almost a decade — has been usurped by his changeup.

Saturday will mark the second time Kluber has faced his old team. Last September, with the Yankees, he shut Cleveland out over 6.0 innings with two walks and four strikeouts.

Team at a glance

  • Record: 53-46 (5th in AL)
  • Runs Scored: 410
  • Run Differential: +21 (6th in AL)
  • Last 10: 4-6
  • Slash: .240/.307/.381
  • wOBA: .303 (10th in AL)
  • wRC+: 101 (8th in AL)
  • ERA: 3.42 (3rd in AL)
  • SIERA: 3.60 (2nd in AL)
  • K-BB%: 16.6% (3rd in AL)

Projected starters

Friday, July 29, 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP Shane Bieber vs. LHP Jeffrey Springs
Saturday, July 30, 1:10 p.m. ET: RHP Zach Plesac vs. RHP Corey Kluber
Sunday, July 31, 1:40 p.m. ET: TBD vs. LHP Shane McClanahan



How many games will the Guardians win against the Rays?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    (8 votes)
  • 44%
    (43 votes)
  • 35%
    (34 votes)
  • 11%
    (11 votes)
96 votes total Vote Now