If the Cleveland Guardians are not only going to exorcise their Yankee Stadium demons but also get past the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series, then Cal Quantrill will have to pitch like a Game 1 starter on Tuesday.
Cal Quantrill just became a very important piece of the ALDS plan for the Cleveland Guardians
This will be Cleveland’s first trip back to Yankee Stadium since late April when the Yankees posted a three-game sweep and Yankee fans let their feeling be known to Cleveland players after a walk-off win, including throwing trash at Guardians outfielders. However, lost in that emotional series was the fact that Cole dominated Cleveland in the day after the walk-off incident, holding the Guardians to four hits over 6.2 innings while striking out nine in a 10-2 New York win.
Call that ancient history or whatever you will, but Cleveland will once again see Cole on Tuesday night with New York fans ready to release their feelings on the Guardians again. What impact will that have on Cleveland with the youngest roster in baseball?
The Guardians will likely need to take New York’s fans out of the game early, and that’s where Quantrill will play a pivotal role. Matched up against Cole, the 27-year-old right-hander must continue a late-season surge where he has posted a 2.21 ERA and 3.17 FIP over his last 12 starts, throwing 69.1 innings with opponents slashing just .226/.266/.319 against him during that stretch. If Quantrill can find that same kind of success in New York, it’s a positive sign for the Guardians to get the series off on the right foot.
Certainly this is a different Yankees team than the one the Guardians faced in April in New York. Is it, however, more like the team that dropped two of three to the Guardians in Cleveland at the start of July as the start of a stretch where New York went 23-31 over the next two months? If so, a pitching line of Quantrill, Shane Bieber, and Triston McKenzie could find success on the mound.
Tuesday’s opening innings could well tell the story for the rest of the series, making what Cal Quantrill does on the mound extremely important for the Cleveland Guardians.