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2022 Series Preview: Houston Astros @ Cleveland Guardians

The Astros (68-38, 1st in AL West) are visiting the Guardians (54-50, 2nd in the AL Central) to face them for the final time in the 2022 regular season.

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Narrative

After an explosive month of June going 18-10, the Guardians struggled in July (13-15) and won two out of three in August. With a 54-50 overall record, they’re battling with the Twins and the White Sox for first place in the AL Central Division. Even though they lost a three-game series against the Astros in May, this time they’re hosting a four-game series at Progressive Field, where they have a 27-20 record and are 8-3 in their last 11 games.

The Guardians went into the Trade Deadline with a pretty quiet approach and didn’t get anyone to boost their postseason hopes – in fact, they only pulled off a trade, sending catcher Sandy León to the Twins in exchange for reliever Ian Hamilton. That means they’re going with what they have right now.

Cleveland is carrying some momentum, having won 11 of its last 17 contests. However, it’ll be interesting to see how the Guardians take care of new Astro Trey Mancini, who’s 20-for-70 (.286) with five doubles, three home runs, 12 RBIs, and an .810 over his last 17 games against them.

The same has happened with Christian Vázquez over the last three seasons. The Astros’ new backstop is 17-for-50 (.340) with four doubles, four runs batted in, six scored runs, and five walks against the Guardians since 2019.

These four games against the Astros could easily be the toughest challenge in the Guardians’ remaining regular-season schedule, or at least when it comes to playing at home. We’ll see how it goes.

Last 10 Games: 6-4 Record, 2 Series Win, 1 Series Split, 6 Run Differential (47 scored, 41 allowed)

W/L Splits: 27-20 at Home, 27-30 on the Road, 28-27 against teams over .500

Injured List


The Offense

The Guardians’ offense is not going through their best moment of the season so far. However, they have more than one way to hurt a team offensively if they can put all the pieces together. They have the AL leader in hits (Amed Rosario with 118, tied with José Abreu), the AL leader in doubles (José Ramírez with 34), and the guy with the third-most runs batted in the MLB (Ramírez with 86). Besides, they have youngsters Andrés Giménez (.858 OPS, 4.1 bWAR), power threat Josh Naylor (17 2Bs, 14 HRs), and Steven Kwan (17 2Bs, .297 AVG).

Kwan, Rosario, and Giménez have been carrying the offense on their shoulders for the last 15 days. They have combined for 12 doubles, five home runs, 24 RBIs, and 26 scored runs over the cited period. The Astros will have to focus on getting those men out.

Our closest reference of both teams playing against each other is the three-game series they had between May 23 and 25. The Astros’ pitching dominated and allowed only 10 runs across those three games (3.33 runs per game). They need to aim to repeat that.


The Bullpen

Their reliever staff could be one of the most important, remarkable aspects of the Guardians team. Why? Well, they have a great closer in Emmanuel Clase (23 saves, 1.22 ERA), plus they’ve enjoyed great performances from Trevor Stephan, Nick Sandlin, and James Karinchak, among others.

Cleveland’s bullpen is ranked eighth in ERA in all the Big Leagues with a 3.45 mark. The good about the Guardians’ bullpen is it has depth, plenty of depth to go long in games and to give multiple options to manager Terry Francona.

After the Astros’, Cleveland’s bullpen is the one with the fewest innings in baseball (347 innings pitched) – The Astros have 323.1. They might be ready for more action in a four-game series that projects itself to be notably interesting.


The Starters

Game 1: Justin Verlander (RHP, 14-3, 1.81 ERA, 122 K’s) vs Zach Plesac (RHP, 2-9, 4.43 ERA, 79 K’s)

Plesac was lights out during his first three outings of the season, but then, he hit a wall. The righty went through a nightmare since then. In fact, Plesac has not gotten a win since June 5 and hasn’t pitched beyond the fifth inning in a month. The 27-year-old owns a 6.75 over his last four outings. As opposed to Plesac, Verlander carries a brilliant 0.86 ERA and has gone 6-0 in his last six trips to the mound.

Game 2: Framber Valdez (LHP, 9-4, 2.80 ERA, 117 K’s) vs TBD (—)

Valdez will put his historical streak of 17 quality starts on the line, being just three shy of the Astros’ all-time longest streak (Mike Scott, 20). He already won a game against the Guardians on May 24, firing seven innings of seven hits and earned runs. Valdez has been outstanding this year for the Astros and this is a new challenge to keep shining.

Game 3: Luis García (RHP, 8-7, 3.81 ERA, 112 K’s) vs Cal Quantrill (RHP, 7-5, 4.08 ERA, 75 K’s)

Quantrill surrendered nine earned runs over 11 1/3 innings with four home runs in his last two starts. Paul Quantrill’s son pitches to contact and, in fact, has the second-lowest K/9 ratio in baseball among pitchers with at least 20 starts (5.8 K/9). García looked good against the Red Sox on Monday but we’ll see how he performs this time.

Game 4: Cristian Javier (RHP, 6-7, 3.24 ERA, 128 K’s) vs Triston McKenzie (RHP, 7-8, 3.38 ERA, 113 K’s)

For the biggest portion of the year, McKenzie has looked like a special young pitcher, but he had an awful June (6.44 ERA). However, once June was behind us, McKenzie found his groove again and has posted a 2.04 ERA across 39 2/3 innings since July. On the other hand, Javier has struggled as of late, with a 5.11 ERA in his last five games.


For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Thursday, August 4th @ 6:10 pm CDT

Listen: Astros – KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, TUDN 93.3 / KLAT 1010 // Guardians – WTAM 1100

Watch: Astros – ATT SportsNet-SW // Guardians – Bally Sports Great Lakes

Game 2: Friday, August 5th @ 6:10 pm CDT

Listen: Astros – KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, TUDN 93.3 / KLAT 1010 // Guardians – WTAM 1100

Watch: Astros – ATT SportsNet-SW // Guardians – Bally Sports Great Lakes

Game 3: Saturday, August 6th @ 5:10 pm CDT

Listen: Astros – KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, TUDN 93.3 / KLAT 1010 // Guardians – WTAM 1100

Watch: Astros – ATT SportsNet-SW // Guardians – Bally Sports Great Lakes

Game 4: Sunday, August 7th @ 11:05 am CDT

Listen: Astros – KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, TUDN 93.3 / KLAT 1010 // Guardians – WTAM 1100

Watch: Peacock


Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (6 votes)
  • 64%
    Astros Win 3-1
    (38 votes)
  • 25%
    Split Series 2-2
    (15 votes)
  • 0%
    Guardians Win 3-1
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Guardians Sweep 4-0
    (0 votes)
59 votes total Vote Now