The Cleveland Guardians and Boston Red Sox find themselves in similar spots with the trade deadline looming.
Both are within striking distance of an American League postseason spot. Both also benefit from the expanded playoffs, which adds a third wild card team to each league.
Yet, each club is hovering around the .500 mark and hasn’t really established much traction of late.
The Guardians gained some momentum with their 8-3 win on Tuesday and will look to maintain it Wednesday when the teams meet for the third contest of their four-game series.
Right-hander Cal Quantrill (7-5, 3.75 ERA) starts for Cleveland while the Red Sox will turn to righty Nathan Eovaldi (4-3, 4.30).
There’s a sense of urgency for both squads to realistically stay in the race.
The Red Sox have lost four of five since the All-Star Break, and the Guardians are 3-3.
The Aug. 2 deadline creates some anxious moments for players who possibly could be dealt.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona tries to be as honest as he can with his players who are part of trade speculation.
“If I feel like if somebody is feeling it, and if I know something isn’t going to happen, I’d tell ’em,” Francona said during his pregame radio segment on Tuesday. “What I don’t want to ever do is perjure myself and lie. But the guys are pretty good about it now because they’re so used to seeing stuff with social media. They’ve kind of come up through that. For guys like my age, it would probably throw me a little bit. But they’re kind of used to it.”
From the Red Sox perspective, players like outfielder Alex Verdugo are stressing they’re still very much in the postseason picture, even with the club’s struggles.
“We’re still (close) in the wild card, I believe,” Verdugo told reporters. “Hey, boys, let’s go. Let’s start now.”
For the Red Sox to make a serious push, they’ll need to get healthy.
Designated hitter J.D. Martinez played for the first time since the All-Star Break on Tuesday, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and being hit by a pitch.
For Quantrill, this will be his second start of the season against Boston. On June 24, the right-hander gave up two runs in five innings in a no-decision.
In his career, Quantrill is 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA in three starts against the Red Sox.
Eovaldi has gone 3-2 with a 3.47 ERA in his career against the Guardians, but he hasn’t beaten them in a while. The last time the 32-year-old won against Cleveland was on Aug. 13, 2015.
Getting on track is a more pressing concern for Eovaldi, who has struggled since returning from the injured list. In his last start, the veteran was tagged for nine runs in 2 2/3 innings.
Eovaldi went on the injured list on June 9 with lower-back inflammation. In two starts since being reinstated, he has yielded 12 earned runs in seven innings.
Quantrill, 27, will be appearing in his 100th MLB game, and he’s won three straight starts. For July, he is 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA.
— Field Level Media