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Series preview: Guardians vs. Astros

The kids are rolling, but they have a big test this weekend

MLB: AUG 03 Diamondbacks at Guardians Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

So, how are we feeling about this current Guardians team? With the trade deadline past, this is pretty much what we have until the end of the year, save for a couple of players coming off the injured list and maybe another prospect debut or two. Their youth has been fun lately, winning six of their last 10 and throwing rookie after rookie at the league — and they keep succeeding.

Tyler Freeman is the latest to debut with success, racking up a hit and a walk in his debut Wednesday. Could Bo Naylor be next? Maybe a pitcher to save us from the “Bryan Shaw, Starting Pitcher” experience? Whoever it is, they are going to enter a clubhouse that is clicking and playing like they deserve a shot at the postseason.

They’ll have a big test this weekend, though.

If it weren’t for the Yankees, the Astros would be the best team in the American League by a wide margin. They were great going into the trade deadline, and they made themselves even better by acquiring Trey Mancini from the Orioles.

The Guardians are no stranger to facing winning teams — they split a series with the Red Sox and won one against the Rays last week — but the Astros are a different animal. They are good, they are healthy, and to make matters worse, the Guardians are running straight into the front of their rotation, starting with Justin Verlander.

Now, the Guardians have had success against the former Cy Young winner in the past — in fact, some of his worst starts have come against Cleveland. But that was in his Detroit Tiger days, and most of the roster that used to beat him so bad he would start complaining about sign-stealing, has moved on. Some are even his teammates now. He’s faced Cleveland once as a member of the Astros (July 30, 2019) and it was a bloodbath. He faced 23 batters, allowed two hits, and struck out 13 with no walks or earned runs.

Verlander is arguably better now than he was that season, as he currently sits with a 1.81 ERA and a wOBA against of just .236. Still, even during what could be his career year, I’ll never doubt Cleveland’s ability to randomly turn him into their personal Home Run Derby pitcher.

Cleveland will also have to contend with Houston’s offense, featuring a man built for pure hitting, with thighs that could grip a rocket to the moon — Yordan Álvarez. He’s child off a bit lately, but this season is on pace to be his best with a .303/.409/.655 (196 wRC+) and he’s three short of the career-high 33 home runs he hit last year.

The Guardians have not yet announced who will start Friday’s game against Framber Valdez (another excellent Astros starter with a 2.80 ERA in 128.2 innings), but Bryan Shaw hasn’t pitched since his two-inning start on Sunday. You can probably put two and two together there.

Team at a glance

  • Record: 68-38 (2nd in AL)
  • Runs Scored: 470 (4th in AL)
  • Run Differential: +118 (2nd in AL)
  • Last 10: 4-6
  • Slash: .241/.317/.423
  • wOBA: .323 (4th in AL)
  • wRC+: 113 (t-2nd in AL)
  • ERA: 3.01 (1st in AL)
  • SIERA: 3.61 (3rd in AL)
  • K-BB%: 17.0% (2nd in AL)

Projected starters

Thursday, Aug. 4, 7:10 p.m. ET: RHP Zach Plesac vs. RHP Justin Verlander
Friday, Aug. 5, 7:10 p.m. ET: TBD vs. LHP Framber Valdez
Saturday, Aug. 6, 6:10 p.m. ET: RHP Cal Quantrill vs. RHP Luis Garcia
Sunday, Aug. 7, 12:05 p.m. ET: RHP Triston McKenzie vs. RHP Cristian Javier



How many games will the Guardians win against the Astros?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    (5 votes)
  • 4%
    (7 votes)
  • 41%
    (69 votes)
  • 40%
    (68 votes)
  • 10%
    (18 votes)
167 votes total Vote Now