A lot can change quickly in the game of baseball, and a good example of that has been the Cleveland Guardians over the past few weeks. Cleveland went from getting aggressive on the waiver wire for one last postseason push to being one loss away from dropping three straight games to the last-place Royals. We’ll preview the last game of that series before going over which side I’ll be backing in the first five innings.
In the first game of this three-game set, the Royals offense didn’t wake up until late in the game, where they would take the lead and pick up the win. That was not the case last night, though, as they would jump all over Guardians starter Logan Allen and score four runs on eight hits in the first three innings. After scoring three more runs in the 5th, the Royals would not cross home plate again, but they had done enough to pick up the 7-6 win.
With a chance to secure a sweep today, the Royals will have veteran Zack Greinke on the mound. The right-hander has been used in various ways over the past two months or so, as he is fresh off an outing in which he worked as an opener for two innings. Whether it be in a long relief or opener role, Greinke is still averaging 2.7 earned runs and 4.8 hits per outing over his last ten outings.
One of Greinke’s last full starts came against the Guardians, and he allowed four earned runs in five innings. The Guardians lineup he’ll face tonight has still scored ten runs through the series' first two games despite not having a win to show for it. In last night’s loss, the Guardians got two RBIs from Josh Naylor and a solo home run from Bo Naylor, accounting for half of the team's runs.
Getting the ball for Cleveland this afternoon will be right-hander Lucas Giolito. In what’s been a wild season, Giolito’s Guardians career got off to a rough start, but he is coming off a seven-shutout inning performance over the Rangers in which he struck out 12. With 21 punchouts in his last 14 innings, the right-hander is showing flashes of why multiple teams in playoff chases this season have acquired him.
The Cleveland Guardians F5 moneyline is currently priced at (-134), and I’ll be backing them for my play. With how Giolito looked in his most recent outing, the Guardians have the advantage on the mound tonight, and while they may not been headed to the postseason this year, I think they have too much pride as a team to be swept by the last place Royals.
Since August 20th, the Guardians rank 14th in OPS and wRC+ against right-handed pitching on the road. Over the first two games in this series, they’ve shown that they can put runs on the board, and now they’ll face Zack Greinke, who is in the 16th percentile xERA and 4th percentile in expected batting average. Even if Greinke is just an opener, the Guardians will face a Royals bullpen with the 3rd worst FIP in the league over the past month at 5.17.
Offensively, even with their success over the first two games, the Royals are still ranked 22nd in wRC+ and 17th in OPS and wOBA against righties at home. I don’t think this Kansas City team is good enough to have consistent offense in three straight games, especially against Giolito, who allowed just one hard-hit ball out of ten balls hit into play in his last outing.
Cleveland Guardians F5 (-134)