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Series Preview: Oakland Athletics at Cleveland Guardians

It’s still a bad team, but maybe not as bad as a couple weeks ago

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Oakland Athletics Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

In the first of two “Didn’t the Guardians just play these guys?” series of the next week, the Guardians will play the Oakland Athletics in a three-game series beginning tonight.

The Guardians enter play at 13-6 with a +37 run differential. They’ve got a team wRC+ of 108, starting pitcher FIP of 4.20, relief pitcher FIP of 2.78, and they are ninth in MLB with 3.3 Defensive WAR.

The Oakland Athletics are 8-11 with a -22 run differential. They’ve got a team wRC+ of 83, starting pitcher FIP of 3.84, relief pitcher FIP of 3.26, and they are 28th in MLB with -0.2 Defensive WAR. The Athletics have been almost as good at pitching as they have been bad at hitting and defense and that’s why how they’ve managed eight wins. The Guardians took two of three from the Athletics in Oakland in the second series of this young season.


Game 1: RHP Joe Boyle (2.96 FIP) vs. RHP Triston McKenzie (7.20), 7:10PM EST
Analysis: Boyle relies on a 97 mph fastball and has seen success with it so far this season. Everyone in the world knows not to throw Jose Ramirez and Josh Naylor a lot of fastballs, but Ramon Laureano and David Fry also handle fastballs well. Josh Naylor with a 175 wRC+, Steven Kwan at 145 wRC+ and Andres Gimenez at 123 wRC+ are hitters to watch in this matchup. This is the toughest of the three matchups for the Guardians unless McKenzie has figured some things out in-between starts to get his ability to command and throw his pitches consistently back to where they should be.

Game 2: LHP Alex Wood (5.54 FIP) vs. LHP Logan T. Allen (4.89 FIP), 6:10PM EST
Analysis: Wood is mostly fastball-curve and while neither offering has been good this year, they have been pretty valuable pitches for his career. Over the past three years, Josh Naylor and Steven Kwan have handled curveballs with a steady amount of success. David Fry at 178 wRC+, Gabriel Arias at 126 wRC+ and Ramon Laureano with a 95 wRC+ (but with positive regression due vs. lefties) are three hitters to watch here.

Game 3: RHP Ross Stripling (3.12) vs. RHP Tanner Bibee (5.13 FIP), 1:40PM EST
Analysis: Stripling keeps hitters off balance with a good slider and a curveball. Jose Ramirez, Josh Naylor and Will Brennan have handled sliders with aplomb. Let’s see if Estevan Florial with a 102 wRC+ can get another homer in this particular game and in the series overall. Esteury Ruiz with a 263 wRC+, Kyle McCann at 213 wRC+, and Tyler Nevin at 121 wRC_ are the primary Oakland hitters to warch in this series.

Analysis: Just keep winning series, baby. The Athletics are a frisky team ready to ruin a hot start for a superior team. Give them no opportunity to do so.