Preview | Cleveland Guardians

The Reds (62-58) begin a new week with a two game series against the Cleveland Guardians (57-62) at Great American Ball Park. The Reds are 3.5 games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers and tied with the Chicago Cubs a half-game out of the final wild card slot. 

In the AL Central, the Guardians are 4.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins, who have an identical record to the Reds. Both the Reds and Guardians are 12-17 since the All-Star break.   

  • Tuesday (6:40 pm) 
  • Wednesday (6:40 pm)

Terry Francona is in his 11th season as skipper for Cleveland. They’ve made the postseason in six of those campaigns. This short series is the first installment of the 2023 battle for the Ohio Cup. The two teams square off again the final week of September in northern Ohio. 

Position Players

The Guardians offense is in the bottom third of MLB. Their lineup has only one hitter with a wRC+ above 101. The Reds have five. The Guardians rank 23rd in wRC+.

  • Hit skill (BA) – 17th (Reds 15th)
  • On-base skill (BB%) – 25th (Reds 9th)
  • Hitting for power (ISO) – dead last (Reds 13th)
  • Overall run production (wRC+) – 23rd (Reds 20th)

At age 30, Jose Ramirez continues to be a marvel. Ramirez has 18 home runs and 18 stolen bases. His walk rate (10.6%) is above his strikeout rate (10.2%). The third baseman is an extreme pull hitter, with the 10th highest pull-rate (50%) in the league. Ramirez has a career wRC+ of 135 in his 168 plate appearances against the Reds.

Starting Pitcher Matchups

Shane Bieber (elbow), Tristan McKenzie (elbow) and Cal Quantril (shoulder) are on the IL. The Guardians traded Aaron Civale at the trade deadline. Because of all the change, season-long stats for their rotation aren’t meaningful. Four of the five current starters were drafted by the organization, as were Bieber, McKenzie and Civale. 

Logan Allen is a rookie making his 18th start of the season for the Guardians. Allen is a lefty like Andrew Abbott, but his debut hasn’t been quite as impressive. Allen’s best pitch is a funky changeup, which he throws 20% of the time. It comes in slow and it breaks opposite of how you would expect. 

That’s a look at the bizarre pitch, as Allen strikes out former Red Brandon Drury. A close matchup with Graham Ashcraft. 

The Guardians traded for Noah Syndergaard at the deadline. For the Dodgers, Syndergaard had been one of the worst starters in baseball. Of 131 starters with at least 70 innings, Syndergaard’s strikeout rate ranks third from bottom. The Reds faced Syndergaard in June and blasted him for six runs in three innings, including Elly De La Cruz’s first home run. Two of Syndergaard’s three starts for Cleveland have been solid-to-good. Matchup with Abbott should be a big edge to the Reds. 


The Guardians bullpen ranks in the middle overall. 

Closer Emmanuel Clase has dynamic stuff, but has blown nine of his forty save opportunities. 


[Obligatory paragraph where we pretend to care about the Ohio Cup] In recent years, the Guardians have had the edge in this series. The Reds haven’t captured the Ohio Cup since 2014. But in 2023, the Reds have a better record and also look better on paper, given the Guardians’ injuries to their starting pitching staff. With an even number of games in the series, the Reds will have to take three out of four to reclaim the cup. 

[Reality] The Reds are desperate to keep pace in the the Wild Card and NL Central races. Cleveland is below .500, with an anemic offense and one of the worst starters in baseball going in one of the two games. A good chance for a much needed sweep for the Reds.

Featured Photo: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Steve Mancuso

Steve Mancuso is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up during the Big Red Machine era. He’s been writing about the Reds for more than ten years. Steve’s fondest memories about the Reds include attending a couple 1975 World Series games, being at Homer Bailey’s second no-hitter and going nuts for Jay Bruce at Clinchmas. Steve was also at all three games of the 2012 NLDS, but it’s too soon to talk about that.