It took a walk-off, but the Guardians were able to start their series with the A’s on a high note. After all the excitement last night, Guardians fans can wake up today with even more excitement since their number one prospect Gavin Williams is set to make his debut on the mound tonight. We’ll preview the game before going over my play for the first five innings.
The Guardians' offense picked up ten hits last night, with five going for extra bases, but they still couldn’t put their first runs on the board till the seventh inning. Amed Rosario, who went 3-5 in the game, started the scoring for Cleveland with an RBI single, which was immediately followed by a Jose Ramirez RBI double to knot the game at 2-2 in the seventh. Ultimately Andres Gimenez would be the game's hero as he drove in the winning run in the tenth inning.
As Cleveland looks to secure a series win tonight with a victory, they will send number one prospect Gavin Williams to the mound for his first career start. Williams joins Tanner Bibee and Logan Allen as the third highly-ranked pitching prospect to debut for the team this season. In 12 starts in the minors, Williams threw a total of 60.1 innings and put up a 2.39 ERA and 81 strikeouts.
The Oakland lineup that Williams will face tonight recorded six hits last night, with the biggest being a Tony Kemp solo home run. Not only did last night mark the A’s sixth straight loss, but it was also the eighth game out of their last ten in which they failed to score more than three runs.
With Oakland looking to snap another losing streak, they will hand the ball to Paul Blackburn to make his 5th start of the season. Since making his season debut on May 29th, the veteran righty has turned in three strong starts out of the four he’s made, leading to a 3.48 ERA in 20.7 innings. Blackburn struck out a season-high nine hitters in his last outing against the Rays but still ended up with a no-decision.
The total for the first five innings is currently set at 4.5, and for my play in this one, I’ll be taking the under. Cleveland is one of the league's most profitable F5 under teams in the league this season, with a 2.98% ROI. Offensively, the Guardians rank 28th in average runs per game in the first five innings, and the team that comes in at 27th is the Oakland A’s.
The A’s offense ranks 20th in OPS, 19th in wOBA, and 17th in wRC+ against right-handed pitching on the road over the past month, and tonight they’ll face a starter that most of the team has never faced. Gavin Williams produced big strikeout numbers in the minors this season, with a strikeout percentage of 33.3%, and on top of that, his batting average against was .181. While this is no longer Triple-A, if there is one team I trust with pitcher development and plans, it is the Guardians.
On the other side, Paul Blackburn has a 1.91 FIP the first time through the order, and his expected batting average is currently sitting at .220. Blackburn was solid for Oakland last season, and his expected numbers show he will likely continue to build off his strong start, as his expected ERA sits at 3.15 and xwOBA at .280.
F5 Under 4.5