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Guardians look to keep rolling against Rangers

The Guardians could theoretically wrap up the AL Central by the end of this series — they just have to win first

Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

The Guard show will continue on the road tonight as Cleveland heads to Texas to face the Rangers for the second and final time this season. Cleveland took two out of three in the first matchup, with their only loss being Kirk McCarty’s first career start (and second MLB appearance).

The Guardians were still finding their identity when these two teams played in June, but it’s safe to say they found it now — the youngest team in the majors is playing with house money, nothing to lose, and only the postseason to gain. They are coming off a tremendous stretch of games against their biggest division opponents, taking four of five from the Twins and sweeping the White Sox right out of Chicago. Dominant starts from Triston McKenzie and Shane Bieber mean that their bullpen is well-rested, too. Trevor Stephan got one batter out yesterday, and Emmanuel Clase pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to close out the Sox. James Karinchak finished Wednesday’s blowout with a clean inning of relief.

They may need those bullpen arms for this series with the more questionable side of the rotation getting two of three starts. You can count on Game 2 starter Cal Quantrill to go deep at this point, but rookie Cody Morris still isn’t a sure thing, and Aaron Civale is making just his second start since returning from a wrist injury.

The Rangers, unlike the Guardians, are very much not in playoff contention. They’re also not playing for a top draft pick or anything at 65-84, they’re just kind of existing and bringing Corey Seager along for the ride. They’re 5-5 over their last time and riding a two-game winning streak over the Angels.

Texas has had no trouble scoring thanks in part to the money they spent this offseason. Seager, the $325 million man, leads the team with 32 home runs and a .246/.320/.461 slash. Marcus Semien, signed to a $175 million deal in December, is slashing .254/.311/.436 with 23 home runs. They rank fifth in the AL in terms of scoring, but none of that matters much when you can’t pitch, and the Rangers pitching staff has been abysmal. As a group, they rank 14th in the AL in ERA, with Martín Pérez as the only starter with an ERA under 3.80.

Now onto what really matters: What happens if the Guardians win? If they win all three games against the Rangers and the White Sox lose all three of theirs to the Tigers, the division would be a wrap. At 86-67, the Guardians would tie the White Sox at worst, and they own the tiebreaker with their decisive 12-7 head-to-head record. So, if all goes well, we could be looking at a hangover lineup next Monday against the Rays.

Team at a glance

  • Record: 65-84 (11th in AL)
  • Runs Scored: 665 (5th in AL)
  • Run Differential: -18 (10th in AL)
  • Last 10: 5-5
  • Slash: .242/.304/.400
  • OPS: .704 (7th in AL)
  • ERA: 4.21 (12th in AL)
  • WHIP: 1.34 (14th in AL)
  • K/BB: 2.29 (14th in AL)

Projected starters

Friday, Sept. 23, 8:05 p.m. ET: RHP Cody Morris vs. RHP Jon Gray
Saturday, Sept. 24, 7:05 p.m. ET: RHP Cal Quantrill vs. RHP Glenn Otto
Sunday, Sept. 25, 2:35 p.m. ET: RHP Aaron Civale vs. LHP Cole Ragans



How many games will the Guardians win against the Rangers?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    (47 votes)
  • 66%
    (164 votes)
  • 10%
    (27 votes)
  • 3%
    (8 votes)
246 votes total Vote Now