Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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MLB Preview: Cleveland Guardians (60-68) at Toronto Blue Jays (70-58)


Following Wednesday night’s suspended game due to torrential rain storms, the Cleveland Guardians & Los Angeles Dodgers completed a pair of contests in succession on Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field, with the NL West division-leaders taking both decisions by finals of 6-1 and 9-3…Cleveland finished the 8-day, 7-game homestand at 2-5 against Detroit (1-3) and Los Angeles-NL (1-2)…club has gone 11-10-4 over last 25 series (-1G below .500/39-40 record since May 26).

With the Dodgers holding a carryover 3-1 advantage thanks to a 3-run rally against XZAVION CURRY (2.0IP, 5H, 3R-ER, 0BB, SO, 38 pitches) in the 1st inning on Wednesday night that stacked the deck ahead of JOSÉ RAMÍREZ’s solo shot (19) off Clayton Kershaw (2.0IP, H, 1R-ER, 0BB, 4SO, HR, WP, HB, 33 pitches) in the bottom half of the same frame, Cleveland and Los Angeles resumed play just after noon on Thursday…Mookie Betts went on to post his second career 5-hit game, picking up a 2-run double in the 8th that put the finishing touches on the club’s 6-1 victory.

The two clubs began their regularly scheduled contest at 4:20pm ET, with the Dodgers cruising to a 9-3 victory behind 4.0 effective frames of relief from 27th Player Ryan Pepiot, who entered in the 5th to protect a 3-2 lead…Cleveland initially built a 2-0 advantage during a 2nd-inning rally, which included a botched pick-off-turned-double-steal that brought GABRIEL ARIAS home ahead of BO NAYLOR’s RBI-double…Arias added a solo shot (8) in the 8th inning…GAVIN WILLIAMS (4.1IP, 8H, 7R-5ER, 2BB, 5SO, HR, 96 pitches) and 27th Player HUNTER GADDIS (4.2IP, 7H, 2R-ER, 2BB, 0SO, HR, 64 pitches) covered the entirety of the contest to spare a stretched bullpen.

Cleveland (60-68) sits in 2nd place in AL Central standings, 6.0 games behind 2nd-place Minnesota (66-62) & 1.5 games ahead of 3rd-place Detroit (-7.5G, 58-69)…Guardians have dropped 6 of 8, 17 of 25, 40 of 79 and 62 of last 113 overall since starting year 9-6.

The Cleveland Guardians visit Rogers Centre for a 3-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend, the final of two series between the clubs this season…the two sides split in the first series, a 4-game set in Cleveland, as Cleveland lost 3-1, won 1-0, lost 1-0 and won 4-3…the Guardians won the season series between the two sides in 2022, going 5-2 in 7 games against Toronto…during the Terry Francona era, the Guardians are 35- 29 against the Blue Jays and 14-16 at Rogers Centre…overall, Cleveland is 223-219 all-time against Toronto dating back to the club’s foundation in 1977.

In 45 career games against Toronto, JOSÉ RAMÍREZ is batting .274 (51-for-186) with 6 home runs and 28 RBI…ANDRÉS GIMÉNEZ owns a .314 average (11-for-35) with 4 RBI and a .855 OPS in 13 career games against the Blue Jays.

Cleveland’s starting rotation currently possesses a 3.98 ERA (306ER/692.1IP) this season, ranking 6th in the AL/7th in MLB…the pitching staff’s 13 shutouts this season are 1st in the AL and 2nd in MLB, trailing Atlanta (15)…in the second half, the Guardians starting rotation has held opponents to 3-or-fewer earned runs in 31 of their 36 starts since July 14 and have lasted 5.0-or-more innings in 30 of their 36 starts since the All-Star break, with 3 of those 6 outings being XZAVION CURRY’s spot starts… the 3.24 ERA from the rotation (73ER/202.2IP) to start the second half is the lowest in MLB, 9 points lower than the next-best team (Toronto, 3.21)…the table above shows how Cleveland’s starting pitching ranks among MLB teams since the All-Star break.

Cleveland’s bullpen has allowed 21.3% of inherited runners to score this season (34-of-160), the lowest pct. in MLB ahead of Toronto (21.4%)…SAM HENTGES leads MLB with a rate of 8.0% (2-of-25), while NICK SANDLIN is 2nd in MLB with a rate of 11.4% (4-of-35)…ENYEL DE LOS SANTOS (6-of-28, 21.4%) is 14th in MLB…over the past calendar month, the pen has inherited 45 runners and allowed just 6 to score (13.3%), leading MLB ahead of Toronto (15.8%) in that timeframe.

EMMANUEL CLASE currently has 100 career saves and 99 with Cleveland…his 99 saves with the Guardians are 6th-most in club history and 5 saves away from tying José Mesa (104) for 5thmost in club history…his 33 saves this season lead the American League and are tied with SF’s Camilo Doval and BAL’s Felix Bautista for 2nd-most in MLB, behind CIN’s Alexis Diaz (34)…his 58 appearances this season rank T3rd in the American League and T4th in MLB with 6 other pitchers…since July 7, Clase has converted 9 of 11 save opportunities with a 1.72 ERA (3ER/15.2IP) across 16 appearances… since the start of last season, Clase leads MLB with 75 saves and 135 appearances, while his 129.0IP rank 4th among MLB relievers during that stretch.

Cleveland is one of 2 MLB teams (also Oakland) to have 6 different rookies throw 30.0+ innings this season; TANNER BIBEE (113.2IP) LOGAN ALLEN (103.1IP), XZAVION CURRY (77.0IP), GAVIN WILLIAMS (64.0IP), HUNTER GADDIS (36.0IP) and PEYTON BATTENFIELD (34.2IP)…however, Cleveland is the only team in MLB with a foursome of rookies to throw 60.0+ innings, ahead of Oakland, Detroit and Arizona who each have 3…41.51% of Cleveland’s innings pitched this season (474.0IP/1142.0IP) have come via rookies, the highest rate in MLB ahead of Oakland (41.17%)…the Guards rookies rank amongst MLB clubs’ rookies in wins (22, 1st), games started (70, 1st), innings pitched (474.0, 1st) and strikeouts (430, 2nd).

The Guardians 70 starts by rookie pitchers this season are the most in a single Cleveland season since at least 1947…Cleveland rookie pitchers have 22 wins this season, T2nd-most by Cleveland rookie pitching in a single season, trailing 2001 (23 wins)…the club’s 474.0 innings pitched and 430 strikeouts by rookies this season both are 2nd-most for a single Cleveland season, trailing 2021 (542.0IP, 571SO).

Cleveland Guardians Charities continues to cover the costs associated with all CMSD high school baseball & softball programs, currently in 10 schools that make up the Senate League and its approximate 300 student-athletes…CGC uses the RBI program to keep student athletes engaged at their CMSD school so they are eligible for the Say Yes to Education scholarship for college.


2023 4-1 4.04 10 10 55.2 60 25 25 19 53
Career 4-1 4.04 10 10 55.2 60 25 25 19 53

2023 9-3 3.01 20 20 113.2 101 40 38 36 112
Career 9-3 3.01 20 20 113.2 101 40 38 36 112

The 24-year-old right-hander is scheduled to make his 21st career start, 11th on the road, in the opener of this 3-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays…has faced Toronto once, earning the win after twirling 7.0-shutout innings in a 1-0 victory on August 8 at progressive Field…is 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA (5ER/24.1IP) in 4 starts
against the AL East this season.

Bibee ranks among MLB rookie starting pitchers (min 65.0IP) in win percentage (.750, 1st), ERA (3.01, 2nd), innings pitched (113.2IP, 3rd) and HR/9 (0.87, 3rd)…he and HOU’s J.P. France are the only rookies to win 7 straight decisions this season.

He was originally selected by Cleveland in the 5th round (156th overall) of the 2021 MLB Draft out of Cal State Fullerton…entered the 2023 season as Cleveland’s #5 prospect according to MLB. com…is starting on extended 5 days’ rest; is 4-3 with a 3.06 ERA (21ER/61.2IP) in 10 starts on 5 days’ rest.

Bibee suffered his first loss since June 13 at San Diego in his previous start against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday at Progressive Field, a 4-3 loss…allowed 3 runs (earned) on 5 hits with 6 strikeouts and one walk over 5.0 innings…after a single from Riley Greene and a walk issued the Spencer Torkelson, Kerry Carpenter sent a 3-run home run to right field to put the Tigers up 3-0 in the 1st frame, Bibee’s only mark on the day…the rookie worked through traffic in the 2nd through 4th frames, but retired the final eight batters he faced to finish his outing…he has issued one walk over his last 3 starts (19.0IP), becoming one of two Cleveland pitchers to turn the trick this season…PEYTON BATTENFIELD accomplished the feat over three starts from May 5-17 (17.1IP) earlier this season.

Since June 24, Bibee is 6-1 with a 2.09 ERA (14ER/60.1IP) in 10 starts, leading the American League in ERA and ranking 2nd in MLB behind SD’s Blake Snell (2.07)…is holding hitters to a .216 average (48-for-222) and .598 OPS during that stretch…has allowed 2-or-fewer runs in 8 of his last 10 starts…since June 24, he has recorded a quality start in 6 of his 10 outings and has a total of 9 on the season.

Over his last 10 outings, his 4-seam fastball is holding hitters to a .202 average (20-for-99) with 24 strikeouts…his breaking balls have had success as well, limiting hitters to a .191 average (17-for89) with 25 strikeouts and an average exit velocity of 85.3 during this stretch…overall this season, opposing batters are hitting .227 (35-for-154) against his breaking balls and .236 (48-for-203) against his fastball (Baseball Savant).


THE LATEST: The Blue Jays took a 5-3 loss to the Orioles in the finale of their three-game series in Baltimore last night…Are now 23-18 in series finales and 10-5 in rubber games…Fell to 12-9-1 in road series and 23-16-2 overall…Wrapped up their road trip at 3-3 and are now 38-31 while away from Rogers Centre this season. Toronto has still won five of its last nine games, 16 of its last 29, and is 25-18 across its last 43…The .581 win% over that span (since July 4) is tied for 3rd best in the AL (T-6th in MLB)…Enters today 1.5 games back of both Seattle (71-56) and Houston (72-57) for the 3rd AL Wild Card spot.

MORE NOTCHES ON THE BELT: Brandon Belt drilled a solo shot to right in the 6th inning last night…Was his 15th homer of the season and the 4th of his last four games…Marked the 6th time to record four home runs in a four-game span in his career (last: Sept. 24, 2021-April 8, 2022). The man from Nacogdoches, TX, also drew a walk for a 1-for-3 night…Has reached base safely in each of his last 18 starts while going 20-for-65 (.308) with 16 runs scored, four doubles, seven home runs, 11 RBI, and 14 walks (.430 OBP, 1.123 OPS)…His 4.46 pitches/ PA this season tops all MLB batters (min. 300 PA)… His 1.148 OPS for the month of August is 3rd best in the AL (4th in MLB) while his .714 SLG is also 3rd and his .434 OBP ranks 5th.

JUST BO WITH IT: Bo Bichette singled and scored a run in the 4th inning last night…Extended his hitting streak to 11 games, the longest active streak in the AL, while going 20-for-49 (.408) with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, and seven RBI (1.053 OPS)…Has gone 6-for-23 (.261) with four runs, two extra-base hits, and two RBI in five games since coming back from the injured list. The shortstop now has 150 hits to top all AL batters (2nd: Marcus Semien – 147), despite missing
16 games with a knee injury…Is 2nd among AL batters with a .318 batting average (1st: Yandy Díaz – .326) while tied for 4th with 43 multi-hit games…Is also 8th
in the AL OPS (.842), 9th in SLG (.494), and 9th in total bases (233).

TIME FOR THE VARSHOW: Daulton Varsho doubled in 4th inning last night…Was the 7th extra-base hit of his last 10 games…Over his last 18 contests, has hit .298 (17-for-57) with four doubles, a triple, four home runs, and 13 RBI (.979 OPS)…Also has recorded 21 defensive runs saved this season, tied with Fernando Tatis Jr. (21) for the most in the Majors.

VLAD HABITS: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled and drove in a run as part of a 1-for-4 night…Has reached base safely in 30 of his last 32 games while hitting .258 (31-for-120) with five doubles, four home runs, 13 RBI, and an 18BB/19K ratio (.760 OPS).

DANNY DOUBLES: Danny Jansen went 1-for-3 on a double last night… Was his career-high 14th double (13 in 2021).

DOING YOUR HOMEWORK: The Blue Jays are beginning a six-day, six-game homestand…Have gone 32-27 this season at Rogers Centre…The .542 win% at home ranks 7th in the AL… After this weekend series with the Guardians, will take on the Nationals (59-69) for three contests before a day off on Thursday. Toronto batters rank 6th in the AL in home OBP (.328), 8th in home AVG (.252), 9th in home OPS (.725), and 10th in home SLG (.398)…The pitching staff ranks 2nd among AL teams with 3.42 home ERA (1st: CLE – 3.41) while sitting 3rd with a .227 home opponents’ average and 3rd with a 1.19 home WHIP.

THE HOUND AT HOME: Chris Bassitt gets the start tonight, coming off his team-leading 12th win of the season last Saturday at CIN….His 151.2 innings pitched are currently 8th most among AL pitchers while his 16 quality starts are tied for 4th most. The 34-year old has kept hitters to a .180 average at Rogers Centre, 2nd best through 12 home starts of a season in team history (Jimmy Key – .159 in 1987)… His .271 opponents’ average through 12 home starts is the best in club history (2nd: Key – .274 in 1987)…courtesy Stats Perform.

TIMMY TIME: Tim Mayza tossed a scoreless 7th inning last night… Lowered his season ERA to 1.01, the best among AL relievers, trailing only Josh Hader (0.81) for the best among MLB relievers.

PITCHING IN: Toronto pitchers have combined for an MLB-best 3.68 ERA this season (2nd: SEA – 3.69)…The 3.68 ERA is currently 5th best in team history and the club’s best since 2008 (3.49)…Are 2nd in MLB with 1,202 strikeouts (1st: MIN – 1,216)…Rank 5th in the AL in both opponents’ batting average (.239) and WHIP (1.24)…The rotation has recorded 58 quality starts, tied for 3rd most in the AL (T-4th in MLB).

HITTING IT: Toronto batters have notched 1,132 hits this season, 4th most in the AL (5th in MLB)…Are 4th in the junior circuit in team AVG (.257), 4th in OBP (.328), 7th in OPS (.741), and 8th in SLG (.414).

VS. THE GUADIANS: All-Time: 219-223-2
2023: 2-2 Home: 117-102
Home: 0-0 Rogers Centre: 73-68

The Blue Jays split their four games with the Guardians when the teams met earlier this month in Cleveland and scored a combined 13 runs (3rd fewest in a four-game series in team history)…The 1st game of that series was decided by two runs and the following three all came down to a one-run finish… Went 2-5 vs. Cleveland last season, dropping two of the three games here at Rogers Centre.

George Springer had hits in all four games in Ohio, including the game-winning home run on Aug. 9, as he went 7-for-16 (.438) in the series…Is a career .293 (43-for-147) batter with 13 doubles, eight homers, and 21 RBI in 40 games vs. Cleveland (.939 OPS).

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also picked up hits in each game in Cleveland, combining to go 6-for-16 (.375) with a pair of doubles…Has gone 21-for-77 (.273) with six doubles, two home runs, and six RBI in 21 career matchups (.766 OPS).

Whit Merrifield went 6-for-13 (.462) vs. the Guardians earlier this month…Leads all current Blue Jays with 117 career games played vs. CLE, going 120-for-466 (.258) with 23 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, and 49 RBI along the way

STARTING PITCHER – Chris Bassitt, RHP #40
TODAY’S GAME: Making his 27th start of the season and his 13th at Rogers Centre…Picked up his 12th win of the year his last time out, on 8/19 at CIN, giving up 3R/2ER over 6.0 innings with 3 hits, a walk, and 6 strikeouts. Over 12 games at Rogers Centre, has held opponents to a .180 AVG, the 2nd-lowest mark thru the first 12 home games of a season in franchise history, trailing only Jimmy Key (.159 in 1987). Has 7 starts of at least 6.0 scoreless innings this year, the most in MLB and tied for 3rd most in team history (Rogers Clemens – 9 in 1997; Dave Stieb – 8 in 1990).

2023 HIGHLIGHTS: Earned his 11th win of the year on 8/6 at BOS, tossing 7.0 frames of onerun ball (7H, 3BB, 6K)…Was his 15th quality start of the year. Improved to 10-5 on 7/20 vs. SD, throwing 6.0 shutout innings with 4 hits, a walk, and 5 strikeouts…Marked his 14th quality start of the year. Won his 8th game of the year on 6/29 vs. SF, tossing 6.0 shutout innings with 3 hits, 3 walks, and a career-high 12 strikeouts…Tied a franchise record with 9 strikeouts through the first 4.0 innings. Picked up the win on 6/7 vs. HOU, tossing 8.0 frames of 2-run ball with 4 hits, no walks, and 5 strikeouts on just 81 pitches (58 strikes)…Marked his 10th quality start of the year. Earned his 6th win of the year on 6/2 at NYM, throwing 7.2 frames of shutout ball with 3 hits, no walks, and 8 strikeouts…Returned home immediately after his start for the birth of his son, Colson, and was placed on the Paternity List from 6/3-6/5. Allowed 6 runs (2 earned) across 6.1 frames of work on 5/22 at TB…Had his career-best scoreless innings streak ended at 28.0…Marked the 2ndlongest single-season streak in franchise history (Roger Clemens: 3.0 IP from 8/15-9/5/98), and the 3rd-longest overall (Dave Stieb: 34.0 IP from 9/13/88-4/5/89). Tossed 7.0 shutout innings on 5/17 vs. NYY, giving up 3 hits, a walk, and a hit batter with 7 strikeouts…Became just the 4th non-opener in Blue Jays history to throw 3 consecutive scoreless starts in a single season, joining Roger Clemens (1998), Al Leiter (1995), and Dave Stieb (1988). Threw a complete game shutout on 5/12 vs. ATL, the 2nd CG SO of his career (also: 5/27/21 vs. LAA), and the 1st nine-inning complete game shutout by a Blue Jay since Mark Buehrle on 6/3/15 at WAS…Scattered 2 hits, 2 walks, and 2 hit batters while striking out a season-high 8 on 103 pitches (70 strikes).

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Has finished seven of his eight career Major League seasons with a sub4.00 ERA, including each of the last five campaigns. Tossed the 1st complete game and shutout of his career on 5/27/21 vs. LAA (9.0 IP, 2H, BB, 9K). Received two 5th-place votes in AL Cy Young balloting in 2021, finishing 10th in the vote…Earned his 1st All-Star honours. Earned AL Pitcher of the Month for September 2020, his 1st monthly award…Pitched to a 0.34 ERA that month, allowing one run over 26.2 innings in four starts…Was the lowest September ERA in the Majors since Greg Maddux had a 0.29 ERA for Atlanta in 1995. Started and won Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series vs. CWS on 9/30/20. Selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 16th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

VS. THE GUARDIANS: Facing the Guardians for the 6th time in his career…Has allowed 3 runs or fewer in all 5 career meetings with CLE, recording 4 quality starts…Last met Cleveland on 8/12/21 as a member of the A’s, tossing 6.0 shutout frames with 3 hits, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts

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