The Cleveland Guardians will take on the San Diego Padres today in the first game of a three game interleague series in Cleveland. This will be a big day for Padres starting pitcher Mike Clevinger. He is expected to make his first start since 2020 today. But he isn’t just doing it against any old team. This is his first start against the Guardians, and in Cleveland, since being traded during the 2020 season. Usually, I would think a starter would be more comfortable in this position, and more focused and ready to pitch against his old team. However, I think this is a tough ask in his first start back from injury. He probably won’t have his command completely back so that will be a tell-tale sign of this start early.
The Guardians are an extremely streaky team, and they return home after winning three straight games in Oakland. Before that, they had lost seven straight games. The Padres are currently on a long road trip where they’ve started 5-1, however they played the Reds and the Pirates. Mike Clevinger is starting for the Padres, and he will be making just his first appearance since 2020 due to injury so I would expect him to be on a pitch count. That means the Padres 23rd ranked bullpen should be handling about 4-5 innings tonight. Zach Plesac struggled in his last outing, but he was very good in his three outings before that. He will be starting for the Guardians tonight before the Guardians 20th ranked bullpen takes over. Both teams will be facing right-handed starting pitchers today. The Guardians are actually ranked first in the league in wOBA against righties at .337. The Padres on the other hand, are ranked just 15th in the league in wOBA against righties. They are still missing Fernando Tatis Jr. due to injury as well.
Both teams also had yesterday off, so we could see the bullpen a little earlier than usual. I think that is why the Padres are comfortable starting Clevinger after the off day, because they know they will have plenty of rested arms just in case. MLB Rosters were also just trimmed from 28 players to 26 players and that will significantly affect certain bullpens. The value at home here is just too good to pass up in what seems like a 50-50 game, I like the Guardians to improve their win streak to 4 at home tonight.