The Guardians have struggled against left-handed pitching this year, ranking near the bottom of the league in most major metrics. They managed to beat Rays lefty Shane McClanahan in the wild-card opener, but only managed two runs – both on a José Ramírez home run. While the Guardians scratched out seven hits off McClanahan, they struggled to string them together, which has been their offensive style all year.
Against the Yankees they will have to face Nestor Cortes in Game 2, and potentially again in a winner-take-all Game 5. Nicknamed “Nasty Nestor,” Cortes went 12-4 with a 2.44 ERA and 163 Ks in 158 1/2 innings this year. The case has been made that Cortes has earned the Game 1 start, though Yankees manager Aaron Boone has since announced that righty Gerrit Cole will get that distinction.
Potentially a left-handed ace twice in one series will test the Guardians’ ability to adapt in the postseason. It would be crazy to think that they could fix their season-long struggles at this point, but they need to find a way, like they did against McClanahan, if they want to have a chance in this series.