Not only did the Guardians complete a big divisional series win over the Twins on Wednesday, but during their off day yesterday, they decided to get aggressive with waiver claims and pick up three pitchers, including Lucas Giolito. Still behind in the standings, Cleveland has some ground to gain on the Twins, and standing in their way this weekend is the Tampa Bay Rays.
After going through a rough patch that saw them lose control of the AL East division, the Rays seem to be back on track. Over their last ten games, Tampa Bay is 8-2 overall, and earlier in the week, the Rays took both games of their short series with the Marlins, including a 3-0 win on Wednesday. It took them until extra innings to put a run on the board, but RBIs from Randy Arozarena and Josh Lowe sealed the deal on the series sweep.
Getting the ball to open their weekend series in Cleveland will be right-hander Tyler Glasnow. In 15 starts, Glasnow is pitching to a 3.12 ERA, and he is fresh off his 7th win of the season, in which he threw six shutout innings against the Yankees. His performance against New York was the fourth time in his last five outings that he threw at least six innings and allowed one earned run or fewer.
Tonight will be the first time Glasnow faces the Guardians since he threw five scoreless against them in the Wild Card round last season. Cleveland is still fighting for a chance to make the playoffs this season, but they did help themselves out by beating the first-place Twins on Wednesday with a final score of 5-2. The offense came out slow in the game, but all they needed was one swing in extra innings to give them the series win, and that swing was a three-run home run by Kole Calhoun in the 10th inning.
In desperate need of keeping their winning ways going, the Guardians will have Cal Quantrill on the mound tonight for his first start since July 5th. In his last four outings leading up to his injury, the right-hander was struggling mightily, allowing five or more earned runs in all five starts.
The Tampa Bay Rays F5 run line of (-.5) is currently priced at (-122), and I’ll be backing them for my play. Tampa Bay will open this game with advantages on the mound and the plate, as they pose as a rough matchup for Quantrill in his first start back from the injured list.
Since August 1st, the Rays offense is hitting .315 and ranks 1st in wOBA, wRC+, and OPS against right-handed pitching on the road. The team is also 4th in hard-hit percentage for that split, so Quantrill will be challenged right from the first pitch. While he hasn’t pitched in over a month, the right-hander enters tonight in the 5th percentile in xERA, 3rd percentile in expected batting average, and 1st percentile in strikeout percentage.
Glasnow’s numbers are quite different than Quantrill’s, as the Rays right-hander is in the 96th percentile in strikeout percentage, 92nd percentile in wOBA, and 65th percentile in xBA. These are not the numbers you want to see for a Guardians team that has not been known for their offense this season. Over the past month, Cleveland is hitting .229 and ranks 29th in OPS and 27th in wRC+ against right-handed pitching at home.
Tampa Bay Rays F5 (-.5)(-122)