Guardians (66-71) vs. Twins (71-66) Match-Up Preview | 9/4 6:10 PM EST

September 4, 2023

Andy Billman

Game 1 Against the Twins

3 Things Preview For Today’s Game:

1 – Giolito 

Lucas Giolito will debut on Monday night in a critical series for the Guards.  Giolito had a tough August with an ERA over seven.

2 – Goodbye to SpongeBob

Josh Naylor was back in Cleveland yesterday, and in conjunction, Oscar Gonzalez was sent back down to Columbus.  Gonzalez only has one hit in his last 15 at-bats. 

3 – Gimenez 

At a time when Cleveland needs their star players to perform, Andrez Gimenez is struggling at the plate. Gimenez, who was not in the lineup on Sunday, only has two hits in his last 19 at-bats. 

Guardians Notes

Cleveland entered Sunday’s game on a four-game winning streak, determined to maintain their position in the division race. Their strategy? Leverage their formidable pitching staff to narrow the gap further. However, this match introduced a fresh face in the form of Lucas Giolito, acquired through waivers and now playing for his third team in 2023. Between stints with the White Sox and Angels, Giolito brings with him a 4.45 ERA, 4.94 FIP, and 1.275 WHIP to Lake Erie. An advantage of exclusively pitching for American League teams is that he’s already faced the Minnesota Twins three times this year. In those 18.0 innings, the Twins only managed to score two runs and hit one home run. While all three games resulted in losses, Giolito can take comfort in having a much stronger bullpen backing him up in Cleveland compared to his previous stints in Chicago and Anaheim. With this solid support, which ranks third in ERA, his first victory with the Guardians should be well within reach.

Like the other teams in the AL Central, Cleveland’s primary challenge revolves around scoring, or rather, the lack thereof. The Guardians have hit fewer home runs than any other club, although Josh Naylor’s return, boasting a .500 slugging percentage (the highest on the team), promises to provide a boost. Additionally, they struggle to draw walks, despite boasting the MLB’s second-best strikeout rate. In many respects, they are polar opposites of the Twins. However, despite these differences, Cleveland ranks only 26th in runs per game this season. If this trend persists, the Guardians may find themselves excluded from postseason play, regardless of the outcome of this series.

Guardians Stats and Insights


  • Giolito gets the start for the Guardians, his 28th of the season. He is 7-11 with a 4.45 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 153 2/3 innings pitched.
  • His most recent time out came while pitching for the Los Angeles Angels on Monday when the right-hander tossed 5 2/3 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies, surrendering five earned runs while giving up four hits.
  • Giolito will look to extend a five-game streak of going five or more innings (he’s averaging 5.7 innings per outing).
  • In three of his appearances this season, he has not surrendered an earned run.
  • Teams have been the money line underdog in 17 of Giolito’s starts this season, and they went 3-14 in those matchups.
  • In Giolito’s 27 starts, his team is 8-19.
  • Giolito has started 27 contests with a total set by sportsbooks this season. The teams have combined to go over the run total in 13 of them.


  • They have won 20 of the 26 games this season in which they hit two or more home runs.
  • Cleveland has gone 19-6 this season when collecting five or more extra-base hits as a team.
  • 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 an 18-13 record this season when drawing five or more walks in a game.

Twins Notes

After opening up a five-game lead over the Guardians on Sunday, the Minnesota Twins are poised to maintain their position atop the AL Central as this series draws to a close. The looming question, however, is just how substantial that lead will be. Up to this point in the season, they’ve struggled to claim a series victory against Cleveland, but the present moment offers a prime opportunity to change that narrative. The Twins’ dependable pitching staff has been a driving force behind their success, and on Monday, it will be Pablo Lopez, an offseason trade acquisition, taking the mound, aiming to justify his acquisition cost.

Lopez has a chance to redeem himself after enduring two challenging outings against the Guardians earlier in the season. In those two encounters, spanning 11.2 innings, he surrendered 16 hits and allowed nine runs, one of which tarnished his five-start winning streak. However, Lopez boasts an impressive 2.87 ERA on the road, suggesting that redemption may very well be within his reach.

While pitching is a vital component, the Twins’ offense needs to step up against Cleveland this time around, regardless of the performance of their pitchers. In their previous ten matchups against the Guardians, Minnesota has only managed to score more than three runs on two occasions. Batting at a paltry .201 and averaging a mere 3.00 runs per game against the toughest competition in the division is simply not a winning formula. Nevertheless, there is hope, as the Twins averaged nearly five runs in August and kicked off September with 14 runs scored in their first two games. The Twins’ offensive consistency has been streaky, and they may currently be on the hotter side. However, their propensity for striking out more frequently than any other team diminishes the significance of strong home run and walk statistics, particularly when facing formidable pitching teams.

Twins Stats and Insights


  • Lopez’s team is 12-15-0 against the spread this season in his starts.
  • The right-hander’s last appearance was on Tuesday, when he threw six innings against the Cleveland Guardians, giving up three earned runs while allowing eight hits.
  • Lopez will look to finish five or more innings for the 19th start in a row.
  • He has made 27 appearances and finished five of them without allowing an earned run.
  • Lopez’s team has won 71.4% of his starts when they are favored on the money line (15-6).
  • In games Lopez has started, his team is 16-11.
  • In Lopez’s 27 starts with a total, the teams have hit the over 13 times.


  • The Twins have a 52-16 record this season in games when they hit at least two homers.
  • Minnesota has racked up at least five extra-base hits in 46 games this season and has gone 38-8 in those outings.
  • The club has totaled eight or more hits 81 times this season and has a 60-21 record in those games.
  • Minnesota has a 65-13 record in games this season when it scored five or more runs.
  • The Twins are 29-15 in games this season when they have drawn five or more walks.

Final Thoughts/Pick

The Guardians are currently displaying exceptional performance, relying on strong pitching and just enough offense to secure victories. Their consistent success against the Twins throughout the year is evident, as they hold a 6-4 head-to-head record entering this final series. With a winning home record of 35-33, coupled with the Twins’ subpar performance as visitors (31-36), several factors favor the Guardians in Monday’s matchup.

One significant advantage is the recent addition of Lucas Giolito, who boasts an impressive 1.00 ERA against Minnesota in 18.0 innings pitched this season. The Twins were already struggling to score against the Guardians, managing only 30 runs in 10 games, and Giolito’s presence will only add to their woes. On the flip side, Minnesota’s Pablo Lopez has struggled against the Guardians, giving up nine runs in 11.2 innings. Additionally, Cleveland holds the upper hand in the bullpen department. With these factors in play, it’s clear that pitching prowess will be the driving force behind the Guardians’ quest for victory.

Our Pick: Take Guardians and the Money Line

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