Taking the handedness of their opposing pitchers into account and who they will be sending to the mound, this three-game series against the Angels may sneakily be an issue for the Guardians. Cleveland will turn to rookies in the first two games and Cal Quantrill in the finale on Wednesday.
Quantrill is nails, and Cody Morris has looked solid in one of his two starts (note: Konnor Pilkington has been omitted from this compliment intermission, but he is also pitching), so why the concern for the Guardians then? Well, the Angels pitchers have trouble finding scissors in a pinch, you see. In the Middle Ages they might have been accused of witchcraft.
Cleveland bats can absolutely sing against right-handers — it’s a big reason they’ve opened a gap in the AL Central — but lefties are another story. Heading into the series they have a wOBA of just .279 off southpaws, good for 29th in all of baseball where they enjoy the company of some elite offenses such as the Miami Marlins, Oakland Athletics, and Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s not a pretty place at the bottom of the wOBA-against-left-handed-pitchers list, but it’s currently where Cleveland calls home.
As unwatchable as the Angels have been every second Mike Trout or Shohei Ohtani are not on screen, their pitching hasn’t been completely terrible. Ohtani is the best, of course, but the Guardians will luckily avoid him. Right behind him is Wednesday’s starter, Patrick Sandoval, with a 2.98 ERA in 127 innings. Since he throws left-handed, you can probably knock a run or so off that when he faces the Guards.
Sandoval, pitching in his fourth major-league season, features a curveball with a wicked spin rate, but it’s hardly his most dangerous pitch. His changeup has gradually become his putaway pitch as he’s gotten better as opponents whiff on it 45.8% of the time in 2022.
Monday night’s starter, Reid Detmers, is similarly not-terrible with a 3.67 ERA in his 108 innings, but he doesn’t have the advanced measurements to back up his impressive season. He appears to be a middle-of-the-road pitcher having a decent season. But, again, he throws left-handed so for all I know he might throw a no-hitter.
To avoid such a fate, the Guardians will need their offense to be more like they were against the Twins, and less like they were for the two weeks before it. They’ll need Oscar Gonzalez, owner of four doubles and two home runs in the last week, to stay hot. They’ll need Andrés Giménez to keep playing like he has eyes on a future MVP. They’ll need José Ramírez to start hitting for power again.
Scoreboard watching will be in full effect for this series, especially if the Guardians overcome their lefty aversion and beat the Angels like they should. Their AL Central lead currently stands at 2.5 games over the White Sox, who start a two-game series against the Rockies tomorrow. The Twins, 4.5 games back and fresh off of getting swept by the Guardians, play the Royals for three before rematching with Cleveland.
Team at a glance
- Record: 61-79 (11th in AL)
- Runs Scored: 537 (13th in AL)
- Run Differential: -51 (12th in AL)
- Last 10: 5-5
- Slash: .229/.294/.386
- wOBA: .297 (13th in AL)
- wRC+: 91 (13th in AL)
- ERA: 3.85 (6th in AL)
- SIERA: 3.98 (10th in AL)
- K-BB%: 13.6% (9th in AL)
Monday, Sept. 12, 6:10 p.m. ET: LHP Reid Detmers vs. RHP Konnor Pilkington
Tuesday, Sept. 13, 6:10 p.m. ET: LHP Jose Suarez vs. RHP Cody Morris
Wednesday, Sept. 14, 1:10 p.m. ET: LHP Patrick Sandoval vs. TBD (Cal Quantrill*)
*pitching prediction via FanGraphs’ Roster Resource
How many games will the Guardians win against the Angels?
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