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Know Your Enemy: Cleveland Baseball Team

This weekend is a faceoff with the future Guardians

Well they did it, everyone. Cleveland finally changed their name to the Guardians. I’m disappointed they didn’t take this opportunity to try and be funny like minor league team names, but what can you do? At least it’s not a racist caricature anymore.

Last Time

The teams last faced off in Cleveland at the beginning of June, and it did not go well. The White Sox took one of the two and lucked out with the postponement of the final game of the series. In the season series, Cleveland has a slight edge, at 6-5. It doesn’t matter if the White Sox are home or away, doubleheader or regular games. The series splits. Adam Eaton was the hero at least once in the series so let’s see how him getting shipped off to the Angels will affect things. The 2021 season series may best be remembered by Roberto Perez ruining Carlos Rodón’s perfect game by being too lazy to lift his foot.

How’s it going

Cleveland is still a hefty eight games back from first and has white-flagged its season, but as we’ve seen lately with the White Sox, nothing gold can stay so no one should assume that we’re going to end the season at the very top. Also, Terry Francona announced that he’s stepping back for the remainder of the season to deal with health issues, leaving DeMarlo Hale to manage the remainder of 2021 (health stuff is no joke, so get well soon, Tito).

Cleveland split its recent series against the Cardinals, while the White Sox sort of played the Royals (if you can call what they put on the field “playing”). Its injured list is might right now with the likes of Aaron Civale, Shane Bieber, and Josh Naylor all on the 60-day.

Cleveland’s record is 50-49, and in their last 20 they’re 8-12, so they’re doing about as well as the White Sox lately. What could be the difference-maker here is that the White Sox are coming out of the tunnel on their big injuries while it looks like Cleveland is just getting started. Cleveland is 26-16 against Central opponents and 24-26 on the road so hopefully that works in favor of the White Sox. The addition of César Hernández should help the White Sox’s sleeping offense, too.

Amed Rosario is leading Cleveland in batting average (.261) and hits (90) while José Ramírez is heading things up for home runs (22), RBIs (60), and OBP (.343). Funny enough, the two leaders on Cleveland in terms of wins and strikeouts are both on the IL (Aaron Civale and Shane Bieber, respectively).

Pitching matchups

Tonight is going to see Lance Lynn face-off against J.C. Mejía. Mejía debuted May 21 and has never faced the White Sox as a starter. He’s 1-6 this season over 40 23 innings, posting a 7.52 ERA. Over his last seven starts he’s 0-5 in 32 innings with a 8.44 ERA. This season he’s allowed 44 hits, walked 15, and struck out 41. Mejía has also given up nine home runs. He throws five pitches: a sinker (42%), slider (21%), 4-seam (17%), changeup (12%), and curveball (6%).

Lynn has been having an ace season. He’s 10-3 with a 1.91 ERA over 103 23 innings. He managed to give himself run support during his last outing against the Brewers, and is 3-2 over his last seven starts with a 3.08 ERA. In five starts against Cleveland, he’s 3-2 with a 2.32 ERA, going 31 innings and striking out 34.

Saturday is going to be Dallas Keuchel against Triston McKenzie. McKenzie debuted at the end of the 2020 season, and 2021 hasn’t been quite as good for him. He’s 1-4 this season over 59 13 innings with a 5.61 ERA. McKenzie has walked 42 and struck out 77. In his last seven starts, he’s 0-2 with a 5.46 ERA. In his three starts against the White Sox he’s gone 0-1 over 11 13 innings with a 10.32 ERA, allowing 13 earned runs.

Keuchel has been a little rocky this season. His ERA is at 4.32 over 108 13 innings with a record of 7-4. He’s gone 3-3 in his last seven starts, most recently going six innings against the Royals with six hits and four earned runs, giving up three home runs.

Sunday is going to be Cal Quantrill against TBD. Quantrill has gone 2-2 this season over 78 23 innings, giving up 77 hits and posting a 3.66 ERA. In his last seven starts he’s 2-0 over 36 innings with a 4.75 ERA. Quantrill is a five-pitch pitcher: sinker (42%), slider (25%), changeup (14%), 4-seam (13%), and curveball (4%).

Why do we still hate them?