Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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MLB Preview: Cleveland Guardians (61-68) at Toronto Blue Jays (70-59)


Coming off a 2-5 homestand, the Cleveland Guardians opened a 6-game road trip with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night at Rogers Centre…club has gone 11-10-4 over last 25 series (.500/40-40 record since May 26).

TANNER BIBEE (6.0IP, 6H, 2R-ER, BB, 5SO, 2HR, 97 pitches) became Cleveland’s first 10-game winner, working around a pair of solo homers by George Springer (16) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (19) in the 2nd and 6th innings, respectively…ENYEL DE LOS SANTOS, TREVOR STEPHAN and EMMANUEL CLASE combined to turn in 3.0 hitless frames of scoreless relief, with Clase notching his MLB-high (tied) 34th save…appropriately, Mississauga native BO NAYLOR put Cleveland on the board with a game-tying solo homer (5) in the 3rd inning, becoming the first Canadian-born player in MLB history to homer in his first career plate appearance on Canadian soil…RAMÓN LAUREANO had the standout offensive performance on the night with 3 RBI, drilling a 2-run homer (7) in the 4th ahead of his RBI-double in the 6th…Cleveland’s first 4 tallies were all charged to Jays right-hander Chris Bassett (5.2IP, 7H, 4R-ER, 2BB-1iBB, 5SO, 2HR, 100 pitches)…ANDRÉS GIMÉNEZ added a solo homer (12) off Jordan Hicks in the 8th.

Cleveland (61-68) sits in 2nd place in AL Central standings, 6.0 games behind 2nd-place Minnesota (67-62) & 1.5 games ahead of 3rd-place Detroit (-7.5G, 59-69)…Guardians have dropped 6 of 9, 17 of 26, 40 of 80 and 62 of last 114 overall since starting year 9-6.

Cleveland’s starting rotation currently possesses a 3.97 ERA (308ER/698.1IP) 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 33 of their 39 starts since July 14 and have lasted 5.0-or-more innings in 31 of their 39 starts since the All-Star break, with 3 of those 8 outings being XZAVION CURRY’s spot starts…the 3.23 ERA from the rotation (75ER/208.2IP) to start the second half is the lowest in MLB, 18 points lower than the next-best team (Toronto, .41)…the table above shows how Cleveland’s starting pitching ranks among MLB teams since the All-Star break.

Cleveland is one of 2 MLB teams (also Oakland) to have 6 different rookies throw 30.0+ innings this season; TANNER BIBEE (119.2IP) LOGAN ALLEN (103.1IP), XZAVION CURRY (77.0IP), GAVIN WILLIAMS (64.0IP), HUNTER GADDIS (36.0IP) and PEYTON BATTENFIELD (34.2IP)…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…41.7% of Cleveland’s innings pitched this season (480.0IP/1151.0IP) have come via rookies, the highest rate in MLB ahead of Oakland (40.87%)…the Guards rookies rank amongst MLB clubs’ rookies in wins (23, 1st), games started (71, 1st), innings pitched (480.0, 1st) and strikeouts (435, 2nd).

The Guardians 71 starts by rookie pitchers this season are the most in a single Cleveland season since at least 1947…Cleveland rookie pitchers have 23 wins this season, T1st by Cleveland rookie pitching in a single season with the 2001 team…the club’s 480.0 innings pitched and 435 strikeouts by rookies this season both are 2nd-most for a single Cleveland season, trailing 2021 (542.0IP, 571SO).

The Guardians have 24 outfield assists this season, T2nd in the American League and T4th in MLB with Detroit…the club’s 55 outfield assists since the start of last season lead the American League and rank 2nd in MLB behind Cincinnati (57).

Cleveland is the only team in MLB with 3 players ranking in the top 20 in outfield assists this season…WILL BRENNAN (8) is T11th, while RAMÓN LAUREANO and STEVEN KWAN are T18th with 7 assists apiece.

STEVEN KWAN is batting .288 (44-for-153) with 7 doubles, 4 triples, 3 home runs and 16 RBI across 38 games in the second half…he’s hit safely in 12 of his last 14 games, batting .286 (16- for-56) with 5 RBI during that stretch…his 44 hits in the second half rank T6th in the American League with HOU’s Alex Bregman and TEX’s Nathaniel Lowe…his 4 triples since the All Star break are T2nd in MLB with CIN’s Elly De la Cruz, trailing KC’s Drew Waters.

After seeing 4.05 pitches per plate appearance in the first half, he has seen 3.68 pitches/PA in his 38 games since the All-Star break, the largest difference on the club…he’s currently hitting .395 (15-for-38) with a .910 OPS on the first pitch…with the count 0-1, he owns a .284 (21-for-74) batting average…most notably, when the count is 1-0, Kwan is hitting .481 (13-for-27) with a 1.222 OPS.

Kwan leads the American League and ranks 2nd in MLB behind MIA’s Luis Arraez (8.9%) with a 11.0% swing and miss rate…his teammates MYLES STRAW (14.6%, 7th) and JOSÉ RAMÍREZ (14.8%, 8th) also rank in the top 10…since the start of 2022, Kwan’s 10.0% swing and miss rate trails only Arraez (7.0%)

Since the Trade Deadline on August 1, the Guardians have turned 21 double plays in 12 games, ranking T4th in the AL/T6th in MLB with Atlanta, Boston and Los Angeles-NL…Colorado and Houston lead MLB with 23 double plays during that stretch…prior to the deadline, Cleveland ranked 27th in double plays turned with 75
in 107 games…since the deadline, Cleveland is turning 0.95 double plays per game, compared to a 0.7 rate prior.

The CGC Guardians Nike RBI program saw success at all levels this season…10 of 11 graduating senior baseball players have offers to play collegiate baseball next year…the 12U baseball team competed in the Cooperstown All Star Village tournament, finishing 16th out of 55 teams…the senior Softball team advanced out of the Regional final to compete in the RBI World Series in Vero Beach, Florida, and has now qualified for 12 of the past 14 RBI World Series Tournaments.


2023 4-2 2.85 9 9 47.1 41 15 15 20 53
Career 4-2 2.85 9 9 47.1 41 15 15 20 53

2023 6-6 3.31 19 19 103.1 98 40 38 40 100
Career 6-6 3.31 19 19 103.1 98 40 38 40 100

The 24-year-old southpaw is making his 20th career MLB start, 10th on the road, in the middle matchup of this 3-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays…over his last 4 starts, the rookie is 2-2 with a 1.96 ERA (5ER/23.0IP), 20 strikeouts and 12 walks… opponents are hitting .203 (16-for-79) against him during that stretch…is making this start on 5 days’ rest; is 3-1 with a 3.64 ERA (22ER/54.1IP) in 10 career starts on 5 days’ rest.

Allen was originally selected by Cleveland in the 2nd round (56th overall) of the 2020 MLB Draft out of Florida International University…entered the season as Cleveland’s #8 prospect according to MLB.com.

Allen last toed the rubber in the series finale of a 4-game set against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, a 4-1 loss at home…the rookie tallied 6.0 innings, allowing 4 hits and 2 runs (earned) with 2 walks and 5 strikeouts, but was charged with his 6th loss of the season…he has pitched 6.0-or-more innings in 5 of his last 6 outings…Allen took damage within the first 2 batters following a Matt Vierling leadoff walk and Spencer Torkelson 2-run home run that put Detroit ahead 2-0…in the 2nd, a Javier Báez walk, Andy Ibáñez single and Vierling infield single loaded the bases before a pop out helped Allen escape the bases loaded jam…after a Riley Greene single to leadoff the 3rd, Allen retired each of the last 11 hitters he faced.

His most recent outing against Toronto came on August 9 in Cleveland, a 1-0 Guardians defeat where he suffered his 5th loss of the season…tallied 5.0 innings of work, allowing 4 hits and one run (earned) with 3 walks and 3 strikeouts…the lone run that Allen allowed in the start was a George Springer solo home run in the 1st that came on the 13th pitch of the at-bat.

In 6 career day starts, Allen has limited teams to a 1.60 ERA (6ER/33.2IP), the lowest of any AL starter this season, yet yields a 2-2 record…is holding opponents to a .202 average in day starts… has allowed 2-or-fewer runs and struck out 5-or-more batters in each of his previous 6 such starts.

In 3 starts against the AL East this season, he has limited teams to a 1.59 ERA (3ER/17.0IP) and .177 average, but holds a 1-2 record against opponents in the division…he ranks among MLB arms against the AL East (min. 3GS) in average (.177, 4th), ERA (1.59, 5th) and SLG (.274, 6th).

In 4 August starts, Allen holds a 2-2 record with a 1.96 ERA (5ER/23.0IP)…he ranks among AL pitchers during the month (min. 20.0IP) in H/9 (6.26, 3rd), ERA (1.96, 4th), average (.203, 6th), SLG (.304, 6th), and BABIP (.246, 6th).

Allen began his MLB career with 8 straight starts of 3-or-fewer runs allowed, becoming the third Cleveland pitcher with 8-or-more such outings to begin a career, joining Aaron Civale (9, 2019) and Cliff Lee (10, 2002-03)…joined Herb Score (1955) as the only 2 pitchers in franchise history with 8+SO in their first 2 career starts…became the third pitcher in Cleveland history with 6.0+IP, 8+SO and one-or-fewer earned runs in an MLB debut, joining TRISTON McKENZIE and Luis Tiant…his 8 strikeouts rank T4th in a Cleveland MLB debut…Allen is one of 2 pitchers in MLB history to throw 4.1+IP, allow 2-or-fewer-walks, and throw 3+SO in each of their first 9 career games, joining Minnesota’s Louie Varland (12, 2022-23)…is one of 9 Cleveland rookie pitchers to reach 100 career strikeouts within their first 19 career starts.


THE LATEST: The Blue Jays took a 5-2 loss from the Guardians in the 1st of three games here at Rogers Centre last night…Dropped to 22-20 in series openers. Toronto has lost three straight games…Has still won five of its last 10 games, 16 of its last 30, and is 25-19 across its last 44…The .568 win% over that span (since July 4) is tied for 3rd best in the AL (T-9th in MLB)…Enters today 1.5 games back Houston (72-58) for the 3rd AL Wild Card spot.

VLADIOS, BASEBALL: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. crushed his team-leading 19th home run of the season last night, a 422-foot solo shot to left-center field in the bottom of the 6th inning..Also picked up a single in the 4th inning, going 2-for-4 for his 35th multi-hit game of the year…Has reached base safely in 31 of his last 33 games while hitting .266 (33-for-124) with five doubles, five home runs, 14 RBI, and an 18BB/19K ratio (.791 OPS)…Has recorded an AL-leading 214 hard-hit balls (95+ MPH) this season, 15 more than the next closest batter (Julio Rodríguez – 199), while his average exit velocity of 93.2 MPH ranks 8th.

SPRING-ER LOADED: George Springer opened last night’s scoring in the 2nd inning with a solo shot to right, his 16th home run of the season and his 2nd in the last five games…Was his 1st opposite-field blast of the year…Over his last 17 games, is batting .323 (21-for-65) with five doubles, three homers, and 10 RBI (.908 OPS).

BBRANDON BBELT: Brandon Belt drew a pair of walks last night…Has reached base safely in each of his last 19 starts while going 20-for-67 (.299) with 16 runs scored, four doubles, seven home runs, 11 RBI, and 16 walks (.434 OBP, 1.105 OPS)…His 4.48 pitches/PA this season tops all MLB batters (min. 300 PA)…His walk rate of 6.28 PA/BB is 3rd best in the AL (5th in MLB)…His 1.130 OPS for the month of August is 3rd best in the AL (5th in MLB) while his .692 SLG is 4th and his .438 OBP ranks 5th…His 15 walks this month trail only Aaron Judge (17) for the most in the AL.

DOUBLE THE FUN: Matt Chapman doubled into the left-field corner in the 4th inning and finished 1-for-4 last night…His 36 doubles this season are the most in the AL and 3rd most in the Majors (Freddie Freeman – 48, Jeimer Candelario – 37). The third baseman ranks 2nd in the AL with a 57.5 hard-hit percentage (1st: Aaron Judge – 64.5), 5th in average exit velocity (93.6 MPH), and 9th in hard-hit balls (176)…Now has 52 extra-base hits, 11th most among AL hitters, while his 56 walks are tied for 14th most.

KIRK’S CLIP: Alejandro Kirk singled and doubled as part of a 2-for-4 evening…Has reached base safely in 16 of his last 20 starts while going 23-for-74 (.311) with three doubles, three homers, eight RBI, and an 8BB/6K ratio (.859 OPS)…His 0.85 BB/K (29BB/34K) clip for the season is 7th best in the AL (min. 300 PA).

DOING YOUR HOMEWORK: The Blue Jays are on a six-day, six-game homestand (0-1 so far)…Have gone 32-28 this season at Rogers Centre…The .533 win% at home ranks 7th in the AL…After this weekend series with the Guardians, will take on the Nationals (60-69) for three contests before a day off on Thursday. Toronto batters rank 6th in the AL in home OBP (.326), 8th in home AVG (.251), 9th in home OPS (.724), and 10th in home SLG (.398)…The pitching staff ranks 2nd among AL teams with 3.44 home ERA (1st: CLE – 3.41) while sitting 3rd with a .227 home opponents’ average and 3rd with a 1.19 home WHIP.

R-YU FEELING STRONGER: Hyun Jin Ryu gets the ball today, coming off 5.0 frames on Sunday at CIN in which he allowed two unearned runs on four hits and a walk while striking out seven batters…Has not allowed an earned run in any of his last three starts while going 2-0 with six hits, four walks, and 12 K’s…Now owns a 1.89 ERA (4 ER/19.0 IP) and a 1.05 WHIP in four starts since returning from Tommy John surgery.

PITCHING IN: Toronto pitchers have combined for an MLB-best 3.69 ERA this season (2nd: SEA – 3.70)…The 3.69 ERA is currently 5th best in team history and the club’s best since 2008 (3.49)…Are 2nd in MLB with 1,211 strikeouts (1st: MIN – 1,221)…Rank 5th in the AL in both opponents’ batting average (.239) and are now
4th in WHIP (1.24)…The rotation has recorded 58 quality starts, tied for 4th most in the AL (5th in MLB).

HITTING IT: Toronto batters have notched 1,138 hits this season, 4th most in the AL (6th in MLB)…Are 4th in the junior circuit in team AVG (.257), 4th in OBP (.327), 8th in SLG (.414), and 8th in OPS (.741).

VS. THE GUARDIANS: All-Time: 219-224-2
2023: 2-3 Home: 117-103
Home: 0-1 Rogers Centre: 73-69

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 .291 (44-for-151) batter with 13 doubles, nine homers, and 22 RBI in 41 games vs. Cleveland (.947 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 23-for-81 (.284) with six doubles, three home runs, and seven RBI in 22 career matchups (.814 OPS).

Whit Merrifield went 6-for-13 (.462) vs. the Guardians earlier this month…Leads all current Blue Jays with 118 career games played vs. CLE, going 120-for-470
(.255) with 23 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, and 49 RBI along the way

TODAY’S GAME: Making his 5th start of the season and his 3rd at Rogers Centre…Won his 2nd game of the year his last time out, on 8/20 at CIN, giving up a pair of unearned runs over 5.0 innings (4H, BB, 7K). Has allowed no earned runs in 3 straight starts for the 2nd time in his career (also: 3G from 5/7-19/19)…The only player in Blue Jays history to have 4 consecutive starts with no earned runs is Pat Hentgen who did so from 5/4-20/97 (excluding openers). His 3.09 ERA since the start of 2018 is the 11th-best mark in the Majors (min. 500 IP)…Among active pitchers with 1000+ IP, his career 3.24 ERA is 7th best.

2023 HIGHLIGHTS: Picked up his 1st win of the season on 8/13 vs. CHC, tossing 5.0 innings of ER-free ball (2 unearned runs) with 2 hits, 2 walks, and 3 Strikeouts… Was his 1st victory since 5/26/22 at LAA, a span of 444 days. Threw 4.0 no-hit frames on 8/7 at CLE, issuing one walk with a pair of strikeouts…Was removed from the game with a right knee contusion. Made his season debut on 8/1 vs. BAL, giving up 4 runs over 5.0+ frames with 9 hits, a walk, and 3 strikeouts…Was his 50th career start in a Blue Jays uniform. Began the season on the injured list after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June 2022. Was sent on a rehab assignment to the FCL Blue Jays and made one start on 7/4, pitching 3.0 innings of one-run ball on 4 hits, no walks, and 5 strikeouts. Made one start with Single-A Dunedin on 7/9, tossing 4.0 shutout innings with 3 hits, no walks, and a strikeout. Started for Triple-A Buffalo on 7/15, going 5.0 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits while walking none and recording 5 strikeouts. On 7/21, made a 2nd start with Buffalo, tossing 6.0 innings of 2-run ball, scattering 3 hits and a walk with 5 punchouts.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers on 12/12/12 after 7 seasons with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization (98-52, 2.98 ERA, 190 G, 180 GS, 27 CG, 8 SHO, 1269.0 IP, 383 BB, 1,238 K). Led all Major League pitchers in 2019 with a 2.32 ERA and finished 2nd in NL Cy Young voting…Set a career mark with 163 strikeouts. Finished 3rd in 2020 AL Cy Young voting and was named to the All-MLB Second Team in his 1st season as a Blue Jay.

VS. THE GUARDIANS: Facing the Guardians for the 2nd time this season and the 5th time in his career…Pitched in Cleveland earlier this month on 8/7, tossing 4.0 no-hit frames with a walk and a pair of strikeouts…Has allowed 2 runs or fewer in all 4 career starts vs. CLE, including a pair of 7.0 inning quality starts as the home side, once with the Dodgers on 7/2/14 and once with the Blue Jays on 8/3/21

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