This weekend the Guardians will be making their first trip to Toronto since July 2019, when the top four hitters in their lineup were Francisco Lindor, Oscar Mercado, Carlos Santana, and Jordan Luplow, and when Mike Clevinger pitched seven innings. Jake Bauers was the DH. Wild times.
Thankfully, that feels like a lifetime ago.
The Guardians are scorching hot right now, winning their last five games and seven of their last 10, overall. The three starting pitchers they will bring to the series — Triston McKenzie, Cal Quantrill, and Shane Bieber — have combined to throw 21 scoreless innings over their last starts.
Steven Kwan, in particular, has been sensational during the Guardians’ win streak, going 6-for-14 with four walks and even a home run sprinkled in there — one of only two the team has hit during the streak. A pesky errant throw that hit Kwan in the foot last Friday is all that prevents him from potentially chasing down hit-streak history. He went 0-for-2 against the Astros before being taken out early. That broke a streak of 18 consecutive games with a hit, which would be 22 right now in an alternate universe.
If it weren’t for the Yankees and Astros, the Blue Jays would likely be the talk of the American League. Favored by many to win the AL East heading into the season, a relatively slow start, compared with the Yankees looking unbeatable prior to the All-Star break, led to Toronto being forgotten when discussing the best of baseball.
They have quietly amassed 60 wins on the back of a well-rounded offense featuring seven batters with over 300 plate appearances at wRC+ of 100 or higher. Catcher Alejandro Kirk has a narrow edge over Vlad Guerrero Jr. in terms of best hitter so far (141 wRC+ to 140, basically a rounding error) — the two of them will be the biggest test for Guardians pitching. Guerrero is a human home run machine with a team-leading .504 slugging percentage, and Kirk is the kind of player that 2022 would love to have. He has walked more than he’s struck out (11.1% walk rate to 10% strikeout rate) and is slashing .305/.388/.461 with 12 home runs.
José Berríos, the only announced Blue Jays pitcher as of this writing, is hardly the ace he has looked like at times in his career. He is on track for the worst season of his career, with a career-low 21.1% strikeout rate and the worst ERA (5.19) since he pitched 14 disastrous games as a rookie back in 2016. The Guardians tagged Berríos for six runs over 4.2 innings when they faced him on May 5.
Guardians reliever James Karinchak is the only member of the team not vaccinated and thus will not be able to travel to Canada. He’ll be replaced by Peyton Battenfield, who could make his major-league debut out of the bullpen this weekend.
Team at a glance
- Record: 60-50 (3rd in AL)
- Runs Scored: 529 (2nd in AL)
- Run Differential: +60 (3rd in AL)
- Last 10: 5-5
- Slash: .265/.328/.436
- wOBA: .333 (2nd in AL)
- wRC+: 114 (2nd in AL)
- ERA: 3.96 (9th in AL)
- SIERA: 3.74 (4th in AL)
- K-BB%: 15.6% (4th in AL)
Friday, Aug. 12, 7:07 p.m. ET: RHP José Berríos vs. RHP Cal Quantrill
Saturday, Aug. 13, 3:07 p.m. ET: TBD (RHP Kevin Gausman*) vs. RHP Triston McKenzie
Sunday, Aug. 14, 1:37 p.m. ET: TBD (RHP Yusei Kikuchi*) vs. RHP Shane Bieber
*projected starters via FanGraphs
How many games will the Guardians win against the Blue Jays?
This poll is closed