Guardians (66-70) vs. Rays (82-54) Match-Up Preview | 9/3 4:10 PM EST

September 3, 2023

Andy Billman

Series Finale Against the Tampa Bay Rays

3 Things Preview For Today’s Game:

1 – X-Man

Xzavion Curry is toeing the mound on Sunday for the Guards and looking to turn it around as Curry has only gone two innings in each of his last two starts. 

2 – Go Bo Go

Bo Naylor is so far enjoying the month of September.  Bo is three for seven in the series with the Rays with an RBI and two doubles.

3 – Debuts 

On Saturday, Guardians fans were able to see the long-awaited debuts of relievers Matt Moore and Reynaldo Lopez.  Moore went one 1/3 innings with two strikeouts and Lopez went an inning as well with both not giving up any runs. 

Guardians Notes

Playing in the AL Central offers a significant advantage – even after 135 games, a losing record hasn’t ruled them out of the division race. However, the Guardians’ postseason hopes hinge on their offense having a standout month. Unfortunately, in August, Cleveland ranked 27th in runs per game, averaging less than four runs per outing. Their season-long performance is also lackluster, ranking 26th in runs per game. Despite an impressive strikeout rate (2nd) and base-stealing prowess, their offense lacks power. They currently have the fewest home runs in MLB, resulting in a 27th-ranked slugging percentage. Additionally, their low walk rate places them 24th in OBP. It’s worth noting that Josh Naylor, the team’s slugging percentage leader, is still sidelined. The outlook for Cleveland’s offense appears bleak.

On the bright side, the Guardians have stayed competitive thanks to their outstanding pitching. Only two bullpens boast a lower ERA than Cleveland’s this season. Despite injuries and trades that could have weakened the rotation, young pitchers have stepped up. Xzavion Curry will take the mound on Sunday, seeking redemption against the Rays. His previous outing against them on August 11th resulted in five runs allowed over 5.0 innings. While he maintains a 3.00 home ERA, August was a challenging month for him. Across 21.2 innings in August, Curry surrendered 17 runs and 28 hits. Let’s hope September brings improved performances for him and the team.

Guardians Stats and Insights


  • The Guardians will send Curry (3-3) out to make his ninth start of the season. He is 3-3 with a 4.10 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings pitched.
  • The righty last appeared on Monday against the Minnesota Twins, when he went two innings, allowing six earned runs while giving up six hits.
  • Curry is looking to secure his fifth start of five or more innings this year in this game.
  • In 15 of his appearances this season he did not give up an earned run.
  • The Guardians were named the moneyline underdog for four Curry starts this season — they lost all of the games.
  • Curry’s team is 2-6 in his eight starts.
  • Curry’s starts went over the run total four times in eight games with a set total this season.


  • They’ve hit two or more homers in 26 games this season and are 20-6 in those matchups.
  • In 25 games with five or more extra-base hits this season, it has a record of 19-6.
  • They have won 45 of the 82 games in which they’ve collected eight or more hits this season.
  • Cleveland has won 39 of its 50 games this season in which it scored more than four runs.
  • They have won 18 of their 30 games this season in which they’ve drawn more than four free passes.

Rays Notes

As the Rays face a 1.5-game deficit in the AL East and strive for the top spot in the American League, the final month of the season promises to answer these crucial questions, especially considering their impressive August performance with an average of 6.08 runs per game, leading to a stellar 17-8 record. Despite injuries, the Rays continue to demonstrate their offensive prowess, ranking sixth in batting average, fourth in OBP, fourth in slugging percentage, second in stolen bases, and fourth in homers. Even in the absence of Wander Franco, this remains an elite team.

Notably, Tampa’s pitching staff has admirably coped with numerous absences throughout the season, currently ranking fourth in team ERA. With an undecided starter for their upcoming game, manager Kevin Cash may resort to one of his trusted bullpen games. However, the Rays’ bullpen hasn’t maintained its usual elite status, currently sitting at 15th in ERA, 16th in FIP, and 18th in WAR. While they possess a top-10 walk rate, their bottom-10 strikeout rate may present challenges in the upcoming contest, making for a potentially demanding day on Sunday.

Rays Stats and Insights

RAYS PROBABLE PITCHER – Bullpen Game – Taj Bradley

  • Bradley’s team is 6-10-0 against the spread this season in his starts.
  • The right-hander last pitched on Saturday, July 29 against the Houston Astros, throwing 3 1/3 innings and giving up five earned runs.
  • Bradley has started 16 games this season, and he’s lasted five or more innings 10 times. He averages 4.6 innings per appearance.
  • He has finished two appearances without allowing an earned run in 16 chances this season.
  • Bradley’s team has won 54.5% of his starts when they are favored on the moneyline (6-5).
  • Bradley’s team has won six of his 16 starts this season.
  • Games started by Bradley have a 9-7-0 record at hitting the over this season.


  • The Rays have hit at least two dingers in 60 games this season, and are 44-16 in those contests.
  • Tampa Bay has gone 30-3 in its 33 games this season with at least five extra-base hits.
  • The club is 62-29 in the games this season it has totaled at least eight hits.
  • Tampa Bay has a 61-20 record in games this season when it scored five or more runs.
  • The Rays are 24-8 in games this season when they have drawn five or more walks.

Final Thoughts/Pick

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Rays’ pitching strategy for this game, they hold a distinct advantage. Regardless of who Tampa Bay sends to the mound, they will face a Cleveland offense lacking power threats. The Guardians have struggled to score against all opponents, making it unlikely for them to put up a high score in this match.

On the other hand, Cleveland has placed its trust in Xzavion Curry to start against the Rays once more, at least at the beginning of the game. However, given his previous performance where he allowed five runs, this decision doesn’t inspire confidence. Curry’s last outing was his worst of the year, surrendering six runs in just 2.0 innings. Tampa Bay’s offense, which has been performing exceptionally well recently, is likely to capitalize on this version of Curry. Expect the Rays to dominate and close out the series decisively.

Our Pick: Take Rays and the RL -1.5

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