Guardians (45-48) at Pirates (41-52) Game Preview | Monday 7/17 7:05 PM

July 17, 2023

Andy Billman

Game 1 of 3 Against the Pittsburgh Pirates

3 Things:

1 – Four in a row

The Guardians have lost four in a row for the first time in the 2023 season.  They play the Pirates for a three-game swing. The Guardians are 6-4 vs. the NL Central in 2023. 

2 – Bullpen Game

Cleveland will have a bullpen game today, and it will be reliever Xzavion Curry to start.  Pittsburgh will have one of their top prospects Quinn Priester making his MLB debut on Monday. 

3 – Bieber Latest 

Cleveland manager Terry Francona told the press that there is “encouraging news” on the Bieber injury front, as surgery is not being recommended for Bieber’s right inflammation elbow.  No exact timetable for his return as Bieber will not throw for two weeks at least. 

Guardians Notes

Despite having a winning percentage below .500, the Cleveland Guardians currently occupy the second position in the American League Central division. When their pitching staff is healthy, the Guardians display a strong performance. However, they struggle with power and timely hitting at the plate. In terms of team statistics, Cleveland ranks 15th in batting average (.250), 22nd in on-base percentage (.314), and 27th in slugging percentage (.375). As a result, it’s not surprising that they are 27th in runs scored, with a total of 369.

The team’s home run leaders are Jose Ramirez with 14 homers and Josh Naylor with 12, while no other player has hit more than nine. Naylor leads the team in RBI with 66, followed by Ramirez with 53.

On the pitching side, Cleveland ranks 10th in team ERA with 3.89 and 17th in WHIP with 1.27. They have recorded 34 Quality Starts, placing them 12th in the league, and hold opposing hitters to an average of .245, ranking 17th. Shane Bieber leads the team in wins with five and strikeouts with 95.

At the time of writing this article, the Guardians had not yet announced the starting pitcher for Monday’s first game of a three-game series against Pittsburgh.

Guardians Stats and Insights


  • Curry (3-0, 3.04 ERA) makes his 1st start of 2023, and just the 3rd of his MLB career. He has a 1.16 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, and 6.1 K/9 in 23 appearances this season covering 47 1/3 innings.
  • Last appearance: 1 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 2 K in a 2-0 road loss in relief vs. the Texas Rangers Saturday
  • 2023 road splits: 1-0, 4.03 ERA (22 1/3 IP, 10 ER – 4 HR), .275 opponent batting average (OBA) in 11 relief appearances

Pirates Notes

The Pittsburgh Pirates are facing persistent challenges in scoring runs, currently ranking 26th in baseball with a total of 384 runs. Their team batting average sits at a modest 20th place with .238, while their on-base percentage is also 20th at .314. In terms of slugging percentage, the Pirates drop further to 25th with .385. Jack Suwinski leads the team in home runs with 19 and RBI with 48. Andrew McCutcheon is the only other player with double-digit home runs, having hit 10 so far. Carlos Santana follows closely behind Suwinski with 45 RBI. Throughout 92 games, Pittsburgh has accumulated 162 doubles, 17 triples, and 83 home runs.

Regarding pitching, the Pirates have slipped to 17th place in team ERA, standing at 4.36. Their WHIP has also fallen to 24th with a value of 1.38. While the starting rotation is tied for 9th in Quality Starts with 39, the overall pitching staff is allowing opposing hitters to maintain an average of .252, ranking them 23rd in this category. Mitch Keller leads the team in victories, securing nine wins, and also leads in strikeouts with 129. As of the publication of this article, the starting pitcher for Monday’s opening game against Cleveland had not yet been announced by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pirates Stats and Insights


  • Priester is making his ML debut. He was 7-3 with a 4.31 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, and 8.6 K/9 in 87 2/3 innings in 18 starts for Triple-A Indianapolis.
  • Last start (AAA): No-decision, 1 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 HBP, 0 BB, 0 K vs. the Omaha Storm Chasers Friday
  • 2023 home splits (AAA): 3-1, 2.56 ERA (45 2/3 IP, 13 ER – 1 HR), .228 OBA in 8 starts

Final Thoughts/Pick

The Cleveland Guardians and Pittsburgh Pirates have both been struggling since returning from the All-Star break, but the Guardians have performed relatively better over the past two weeks. In their last 11 games, Cleveland has a record of 6-5, while Pittsburgh has suffered defeats in nine of their last 11 games. Throughout the first half of the season, Cleveland has consistently held either first or second place in the American League Central division. On the other hand, Pittsburgh initially took an early season lead in the National League Central but has since fallen to fourth place and is rapidly losing its chances of making it to the postseason. The Pirates are encountering difficulties in scoring runs, ranking 26th in baseball, and their team ERA has risen to 4.36, placing them in 17th position.

Our Pick: Take Guardians

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