It’s that time of year. With the MLB Postseason beginning this weekend, TWSN analysts Christian De Block, Tom Seipp, and Micheal Seitz break down all four matchups and who they have advancing to the next round.
Cleveland Guardians vs. Tampa Bay Rays:
Christian De Block: This series may not get the same amount of hype as the other matchups this weekend, but that should not take away from two teams that will be overlooked. The Cleveland Guardians are a well-balanced team with few holes, and the same can really be said about the Tampa Bay Rays. Throughout the 2022 season, the belief was that the Chicago White Sox would eventually turn it around and go onto win the AL Central. The Guardians were not picked to be in this position, but Terry Francona did an incredible job leading this group to a 92-win season. José Ramírez is the standout player for this team, but the young guys like Andrés Giménez and Steven Kwan have taken the Guardians to the next level.
The Rays are limping into the postseason, as injuries and a poor finish to the year could be a cause for concern. Even with players like Brandon Lowe and Shane Baz out for the year, this group can lean on the likes of Randy Arozarena and Wander Franco, among others. On the pitching side, Shane McClanahan and Drew Rasmussen have performed incredibly well at the top of the rotation. While the Guardians are the higher seed and will have home field advantage, the one thing they are missing is postseason experience, something the Rays have an abundance of. The Rays seem to always find a way to advance in the playoffs, and I don’t see that changing this year. The Rays will take this tightly contested series in three games.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays in three.
Tom Seipp: Did you think the Cleveland Guardians – the youngest team in all of baseball, projected to finish third in the AL Central at the beginning of the season – would be hosting a playoff game this October? Well, they are, and their series against the Tampa Bay Rays is being criminally underrated.
Cleveland is led by their pitching staff – starters have pitched to a 3.47 ERA so far this season. They’ll kick off the Wild Card with one of the game’s best in Shane Bieber (2.88 ERA in 200 innings), which is incredibly important.
While Tampa Bay has had a tremendous amount of experience in the Postseason, Cleveland may be too much to handle. While Bieber and Triston McKenzie are as good of a 1-2 punch as any in the American League, the Guardians’ offense has more life than people believe. With Jose Ramirez and Andres Gimenez in the middle of the lineup, the Guardians will have the ability to play with anyone.
Prediction: Cleveland Guardians in three.
Michael Seitz: The Cleveland Guardians are red-hot. Getting hot at the right time is half the battle of the MLB Postseason. The Guardians went on a September tear to pull away from the mediocrity that was the rest of the AL Central. In the short term, Cleveland kept pushing after it was locked into the three seed and have won seven of its last 10 games. The Guardians will face the Rays, who are in the exact opposite boat. Tampa struggled down the stretch and fell from the four to the six seed. The Rays have lost eight of its last 10 and are grasping for something to stop the free-fall before it’s too late.
Shane McClanahan gets the ball against Shane Bieber in game one. The big question is whether or not the mid-season Cy Young front-runner is healthy. McClanahan will face a sneaky good Cleveland offense, while Bieber will be tasked with shutting down the always clutch Rays lineup. Game two will not get easier for either side as Tyler Galsnow and Triston McKenzie take the hill. Game three would more than likely see Jeffery Springs face off against Cal Quantrill.
I give the edge in this series to Cleveland in nearly every aspect. Starting pitching, relief pitching and hitting all favor the Guardians. Pair those advantages with Cleveland being hot, and I will take the Guardians to win this series in a quick two-game sweep.
Prediction: Cleveland Guardians in two.