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2024 Season | Series #19 | Nationals @ Guardians | May 31 - June 2, 2024

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Wham with the Right Hand

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Winners of 13 of their last 16 games the Guardians return home to finish out May and start June against the Washington Nationals. The Nationals won 55 games two years ago and 71 last year. This year they are 26-29 with a road record of 16-16. Since starting 20-20 they are 6-9 in their last 15.

The Nats are below average offensively, ranking 21st in runs per game at 4.06. They lead the majors with 89 stolen bases, and they rank 8th in team speed. However, they are not good hitters, ranking 25th in wRC+ and slugging percentage, 24th in extra base hit percentage and home run percentage, and 27th in isolated power. They are last in barrel percentage.

They rank 5th in the “clutch” category, so they do a good job of getting hits when they need them, which explains why they are 21st in scoring despite ranking 24th to 30th in most of the hitting categories. The Guardians continue to rank 1st in clutch hitting.

Their pitching is their strong point as they rank 13th in ERA and 18th in WHIP. They are especially good at keeping the ball in the park, ranking 3rd lowest in opponents’ home run percentage. They are 7th lowest in walk percentage and 26th in strikeout percentage, so they don’t walk or strike out many batters. They make batters hit their way on but avoid giving up the long ball.

Since the Guardians have the 5th lowest strikeout percentage and the Nats’ pitchers rank 26th in strikeout percentage, I expect the Guardians to put a ton of balls in play.

The Nats’ pitchers rank 28th in BABIP, possibly because their defense is among the worst, ranking 27th in the Fangraphs’ system. So we should see a lot of hits by the Guardians, but not too many walks or home runs.

The Nats rank 24th defensively in outs above average so in spite of having a lot of speed it doesn’t seem like they have great range, especially since they’re 28th in BABIP.

The Nats rank 24th in opponents’ stolen base percentage (82.5%), so I expect to see the Guardians swiping bags this weekend. They may have to string together hits and steals to manufacture runs.

The Nats don’t have any hitters that are particularly dangerous. Their top hitter among every day players is SS CJ Abrams with a line of .260/.783. LF Jesse Winker is at .238/.750 and none of their other regulars are above .750 in OPS.

The Guardians will be facing lefties in games 1 and 2, which is not bad because the Guardians have the second best record in the majors against left-handed starters. The Guardians have an OPS+ of 121 against lefties versus 99 against right-handers.

The Guardians catch a break because the Nationals’ two best starters will miss this series. Trevor Williams (5-0, 2.22) pitched yesterday and Mackenzie Gore, (4-4, 2.91) pitched Wednesday. We will get their three worst starters.

Tanner Bibee goes against Patrick Corbin in the opener. Corbin is a 12-year veteran with a career mark of 98-123 and a 4.46 ERA. Corbin, 34, has compiled ERA’s between 5.20 and 6.31 the last four years. In 11 starts this season he is 1-5 with a 6.12 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP. His road ERA is even worse at 6.68. Opponents are hitting .322/.923 off him. In short, he’s been awful against both right- and left-handed batters (.924 and .917 OPS).

Bibee got off to a rough start in May, allowing ten runs in his first two starts, but has allowed only four runs in his last three starts. With the Guardians having been off yesterday their bullpen should be ready to go.

Saturday will feature Ben Lively (2.80 ERA in eight starts) against 24-year-old lefty Mitchell Parker, who is 4-2 with a 3.45 ERA in eight starts. Parker is a rookie and has been very good with a WHIP of 1.11. He has walked only 8 batters in 44 innings but has struck out 38, so he fits in with the team’s pitching profile of low walks but also not a lot of K’s.

No starter has been announced for Sunday but I read that Carlos Carrasco may get the assignment. The Nats will go with 27-year-old right-hander Jake Irvin, 2-5, 3.43. Irvin is very similar to Parker having thrown 63 innings, walked 11, and struck out 54.

The Nationals’ have a solid bullpen, ranking 6th in WAR and 7th in FIP but 11th in ERA. Their pitchers are better than their defense.

I expect the Guardians to put a ton of balls in play as only four teams strike out fewer batters than the Nationals. And with the Nats’ pitchers ranking 28th in BABIP, I expect a lot of those balls to find grass. The Nats are below average in preventing stolen bases so it could be an entertaining weekend with lots of hits and swiped bags for the Guards. It appears Steven Kwan will make his return this weekend although he may be rusty at first.

Washington is below average at generating runs and has little power so if the Guardians can take leads into the 6th or 7th innings their bullpen should finish the job. The Guardians are 18-6 at home and have won 16 of their last 19 games at the Prog.
 
Back in a real ballpark, back in the City Connects, good be a good night.
 

Let's flash live to Mar

5e8b2bed893afdc71ed6c7ae
 
A bit surprising to see Andres moved down instead of Freeman.
 
I could see Vogt flipping between Gimenez and Freeman in the second spot depending on LHP/RHP.

Just going by memory, I think Gimenez has been on the up and Freeman trending down a bit.

I think Gimenez bolsters the lower part of the order a little better than Freeman.
 
Only knock is I DO NOT care for this sitting Manzardo vs every lefty thing. He's got IT. Let him learn the art of LHP in the bigs.
I don't want to platoon young players. I believe that exposing them to left-handed major league pitching is the only way they will be able to hit left-handed major league pitching.

HOWEVER

I also think that not overwhelming them is a good thing as well. Manzardo's a rookie getting his first exposure. He's producing, but he's still not comfortable. Let him find his groove, settle in, and start elevating these pitches he gets from righties. Once we're comfortable that he's "back" then start introducing him to major league lefties.

Just keep setting achievable, reasonable tasks and goals in front of the kid and be patient. Let him knock each one down in order. Don't rush things and pile everything onto his plate all at once.
 

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