Guardians (41-42) vs. Braves (56-27) Game Preview | Monday 7/3 7:10 PM. EST.

July 3, 2023

Andy Billman

Game 1 of 3 Against the Atlanta Braves

3 Things Preview Guardians vs. Braves:

1 – Williams fever

A lot of excitement in Cleveland for rookie Gavin Williams, especially after his last start when he was fantastic, going seven shutout innings while only giving up one hit.   He has a tough matchup as the Braves have all-star Bryce Elder on the bump. 

2 – Sore shoulder 

Steven Kwan is battling a sore shoulder and did not start on Sunday in Chicago, he did come into the game in the 10th for defensive purposes.  Kwan also sat out Friday after appearing in the first 80 games for the Guards. 

“He’s a hard guy to give a day off because he leads off against lefties and righties, and he plays left field really well,” manager Terry Francona said. “He’s just a hard guy to replace. But then you kind of think, OK, if you get a little stubborn and don’t, you might lose him for a week, which doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

3 – 2023 MLB All-Stars  

Cleveland Guardians got two All-Stars selections closer Emmanuel Clase and third baseman Jose Ramirez.   This will be Ramirez’s 5th all-star appearance and for Clase, this will be his second time.  Josh Naylor did not get a selection, there’s an outside chance because of injuries that he gets the nod, but as of now, he will not be in Seattle. 

Guardians Notes

The Guardians’ season has been filled with ups and downs, and despite having a winning record in their last ten games and returning home, they are considered the underdogs in this upcoming match. While they have a winning record at home, their overall record is lacking, primarily due to inconsistency being their biggest hurdle. They recently wrapped up a six-game road trip, but the lack of quality opponents was evident. It’s challenging to assess where the team stands as July begins, especially since their recent opponents included the Royals, Brewers, and Athletics, among others. If Cleveland aims to compete for the AL Central title, they must secure wins against some of the top teams in baseball.

In this particular game, the Guardians are relying on one of baseball’s hottest prospects, Gavin Williams, to lead the charge. Williams, a talented right-handed pitcher, was Cleveland’s top prospect at the start of the season. Although he has only appeared in two games so far, he has caught attention with his impressive 2.84 ERA, despite facing the Royals and Athletics lineups in his starts. Going up against Atlanta’s lineup might be a challenge for the young pitcher. In his most recent outing, he only allowed one hit over seven innings, and he’ll need to replicate that performance to slow down Atlanta’s offense.

Starting strong will be crucial for Williams, especially considering Cleveland’s offensive struggles. They currently rank 27th in scoring and 26th in OPS, averaging nearly two runs fewer per game. While Jose Ramirez remains one of their standout hitters, the team has been hindered by the struggles of others around him. The Guardians have the fewest strikeouts in baseball, but apart from Ramirez, they have struggled to generate much production from their at-bats. With the Braves capable of putting up double-digit runs, the Guardians must find a way to generate offensive production themselves in this opening game.

Guardians Stats and Insights

GUARDIANS PROBABLE PITCHER – Gavin Williams

  • Williams (0-0) starts for the Guardians, his third of the season.
  • The righty last appeared on Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals, when he tossed seven scoreless innings while giving up one hit.
  • Williams will look to prolong a three-game streak of pitching five or more innings (he’s averaging 6.1 frames per appearance).
  • He has had one outing this season that he held his opponents to zero earned runs.
  • The Guardians have yet to be named a moneyline underdog when Williams starts this season.
  • His team has won both of the matchups he’s made an appearance in this season.
  • Williams’ two starts with a total this season finished 1-1-0 against the total.

GUARDIANS HITTING TRENDS

  • They have won 10 of the 12 games this season in which they hit two or more home runs.
  • Cleveland has gone 11-5 this season when collecting five or more extra-base hits as a team.
  • They have won 28 of the 50 games in which they’ve collected eight or more hits this season.
  • Cleveland has won 23 of its 28 games this season in which it scored more than four runs.
  • They have won 13 of their 22 games this season in which they’ve drawn more than four free passes.

Braves Notes

As the season reaches its midway point, the Braves are emerging as one of the strongest teams in baseball. They have dominated their last ten games with a 9-1 record, placing them six games ahead of the second-place Marlins in the NL East. Regardless of whether they play at home or away, the Braves have been consistently winning, boasting an impressive 26-12 road record. Their recent six-game home stand ended on Sunday with eight consecutive wins, including victories against formidable opponents.

Although the Braves won the series in 2019, both teams have undergone significant changes since then. Atlanta’s young roster has developed into one of the best in baseball in recent years. With their current form, there’s no reason why they can’t secure a win on Monday night and potentially take the series as well.

Taking the mound for the Braves in game one will be Bryce Elder, an exceptional right-handed pitcher. Elder holds an impressive 6-1 record and a stellar 2.44 ERA, ranking among the best in Major League Baseball. He has not allowed more than two runs in his last three starts, pitching a total of 19 innings and conceding only three runs. Despite a few rough starts at the beginning of June, Elder’s ERA remains under 2.0. The Guardians will have their work cut out for them in finding success against him.

Adding to the Braves’ strength is their potent offense, which is among the best in the game. They rank in the top ten in almost every offensive category and hold top-two positions in several key statistics. Their scoring and batting average place them second in the league, while they lead in OPS (on-base plus slugging) and home runs. The Braves offense has been on fire lately, showing no signs of slowing down as Monday night approaches. With players like Ronald Acuna Jr., Matt Olson, and other consistent hitters, they expect to overwhelm their opponents both on the mound and at the plate.

Braves Stats and Insights

BRAVES PROBABLE PITCHER – Bryce Elder

  • Elder’s team is 9-7-0 against the spread in his starts this season.
  • The right-hander’s last appearance was on Tuesday, when he threw six innings against the Minnesota Twins, giving up two earned runs while allowing four hits.
  • Elder has 16 starts in a row of five innings or more.
  • He has finished five appearances without allowing an earned run in 16 chances this season.
  • Elder’s team has a record of 9-3 this season when he starts and they are the favorite on the money line.
  • Elder’s team has won 12 of his 16 starts.
  • Games started by Elder have a 5-10-1 record at hitting the over this season.

BRAVES HITTING TRENDS

  • The Braves are 34-10 this season in games when they hit two or more bombs.
  • Atlanta has put up at least five extra-base hits in 23 games this season and has gone 22-1 in those outings.
  • The club is 45-16 in the games this season it has totaled eight or more hits.
  • Atlanta has a 45-8 record in games this season when it scored five or more runs.
  • The Braves have drawn at least five walks in 23 games this season, and are 15-8 in those contests.

Final Thoughts/Pick

Despite beginning the series on the road, the Braves are poised to secure a victory without much difficulty. Although Cleveland’s rookie pitcher displayed a commendable performance in his previous outing, replicating that level of success in this high-pressure moment will prove challenging. The Atlanta team possesses a formidable offense, ranking among the best in baseball, and their seasoned players will capitalize on the relative inexperience of their opponents. Furthermore, records from covers.com indicate that the Guardians have struggled in their recent encounters with NL East teams, having won only one out of their last seven games against them.

Our Pick: Take the Braves and the Run Line -1.5

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