By Stephen Elliott
Two of the hottest teams in the AL face each other in a five-game-series in the ALDS. Both teams had impact trades (Rangers, Hammels and Blue Jays, Price and Tulowitzki) that propelled their teams to win their respected divisions. Both teams have strong pitchers along with timely hitting that could carry either team to the World Series.
Keys for each team to win
Toronto just needs to continue to play the way they have been playing. The hottest team since the all-star break has been in “playoff-mode” since acquiring their two new super stars back in late July. Their hitting looks like the Bash Brothers of the Oakland A’s 1989 World Series winning team with Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, except the Blue Jays have three bashers. Donaldson, Bautista and Encarnacion who have combine for 120 home runs. Their offense is top heavy. If they win three games, those three will carry the offense load.
Sure, David Price is their ace and best pitcher but not enough has been made about Marcus Stroman. He is Toronto’s young talent that was primed for the top spot in the rotation before the season started. However in March he tore his ACL and was reported to miss the 2015 season. In early September, Stroman surprised many by taking the hill against the Yankees in a meaningful division game. With a stellar September, he is expected to play a prominent role in Toronto’s playoff run. Stroman is expected to start game two in the series.
For the Rangers, win with the bullpen and timely hitting. This team doesn’t have the home run count like Toronto but they have balanced bats throughout the lineup. Manage Jeff Banister has used just about every player on the roster in big moments throughout the season. If the Rangers expect to move on to the next round, they will have to be on par or better inning by inning with the Blue Jays hitters. Each runner left on base will be a missed opportunity.
The Rangers bullpen is the team’s backbone. They can carry this team to a series win if they continue to play consistently since Banister named Tolleson as the closer. Looking back at recent World Series contenders like the Cardinals, Royals and Giants, their strength was in their pitching and bullpen.
Prediction: Toronto Blue Jays win in four
Up and down the batting lineup and pitching depth chart, the Blue Jays are equal to or better than the Texas Rangers. On paper, it’s tough to go against the Blue Jays winning this series and eventually making it to the World Series. Their hitting and pitching are on par with any team in the league and the fan base reminisces of last year’s Kansas City following that brought another aspect to the game. Both stadiums are home run hitting friendly which doesn’t play well for the Rangers. Whatever it is, the Rangers have not figured it out against the Blue Jays. This year they went 2-4 winning one in Toronto and one at home.
Upcoming Schedule – All Time CT
* If necessary
|THU., OCT. 8||Texas at Toronto, 2:37 p.m.||FS1|
|FRI., OCT. 9||Texas at Toronto, 11:45 p.m.||MLBN|
|SUN., OCT. 11||Toronto at Texas, 7:10 p.m.||FS1|
|MON., OCT. 12||*Toronto at Texas, TBD||FOX, FS1 or MLBN|
|WED., OCT. 14||*Texas at Toronto, TBD||FOX, FS1 or MLBN|