This year’s ALDS is full of intriguing story lines and hopefully the games live up to their narratives. Can Terry Francona get his revenge against the club he broke a curse with and helped win two titles? How many times will the benches clear with the Blue Jays vs the Rangers? So much bad-blood and a lot of high-powered offenses should make each one of these match ups must-see TV. If the Red Sox don’t advance it would be nice to see some fresh faces win the pennant, well the Rangers did have their shine from 2010-2012 going to the playoffs each season and winning the AL pennant in two of those years but maybe they can finally win it all. The Blue Jays and Indians have also had World Series droughts, although Cleveland’s last title was in 1948 compared to Toronto’s who won back-to-back (word to Drake) titles in 1992 and 1993 respectively. But we all just want another Rangers vs Blue Jays brawl, come on already. Anyway let’s go to the match ups already.
Blue Jays vs Rangers
This is the one match up we’ve all been wanting since last year’s absolutely insane series that featured bat-flipping, beer-throwing, babies crying, chirping and bench clearing. We got a whole lot of fun when Bautista slid into Odor and got rocked by a nice right hook in the regular season series between the two teams but now we get the legit rematch, this time with the Texas Rangers having home-field advantage against their northern rivals. The pitching match ups are going to be pretty interesting with the Rangers having the better one-two punch with Hamels and Darvish but Toronto looking stronger one through four with Estrada, Happ, Sanchez and Stroman. Toronto did lead the AL with a team 3.78 ERA. Toronto also has a lefty weapon in Francisco Liriano who can pitch in long-relief if the team needs him. With Texas having Hamels, Darvish and Lewis I really think Toronto has the edge on paper but if Hamels and Darvish play as well as that is seemingly enough. Man this one is tough to call but give me the top-two pitchers in this series, if it was seven games this might be a different story.
The offenses here are pretty explosive here with both teams in the top-five in AL runsscored and only separated by six runs. Would you go with Donaldson, Bautista, Ecarnacion, Tulowitzki, Saunders, Martin, Pillar, Travis and Upton Jr or Beltre, Beltran, Odor, Lucroy, Desmond, Mazara, Moreland, Choo, Andrus and Gomez? It’s honestly splitting hairs, I’d say from top-to-bottom the Rangers can beat you up in a variety of ways and with the bottom of their lineup capable of doing damage as well but the Blue Jays have so much power from the top to the middle part of the order. That’s where the postseason magic that is Carlos freaking Beltran comes into play he has a .332/.441/.674 slash-line with 16 home runs in postseason play. That’s my tie-breaker, give me that dude any day.
In terms of the bullpen and relievers, this one is also tough. (*Hint, I think this series is going 5 games.*) If Osuna was 100% I think it’d definitely sway me towards Toronto but having to trust Jason Grilli? That kind of scares me but Sam Dyson also has his tight-wire moments and was the one who surrendered the Jose Bautista bomb , albeit after his defense committed an insane three errors beforehand. It’s tough but I prefer the Blue Jays with Osuna here. That three error moment was one inning in one game though, I still really like this Texas defense and just feel like they’re the better team this season. So…
Prediction: Rangers in five
Red Sox vs Indians
Well it’s going to be awkward having Tito having to be the skipper against the team he helped bring back into prominence, especially after how he got fired and all of the drama that surrounded the clubhouse he ran. But let’s talk baseball, his team is pretty banged up, with one of their best three pitchers, Danny Salazar, being left off the roster due to a strained right forearm that he’s been rehabbing from for almost a month and the other being Carlos Carrasco who fractured his pitching hand a few weeks ago via a line-drive by Ian Kinsler. Francona will instead go with a rotation of Bauer, Kluber, Tomlin, Kluber is my pick to win the AL Cy Young and Bauer can be downright filthy or just pure filth and Tomlin has honestly never been anything better than a fourth or fifth starter. The Red Sox on the other hand will throw out Porcello, Price, Buchholz and Rodriguez. Porcello has been amazing this season with a 3.15 ERA and 1.01 WHIP and even with Price having a down year 3.99 ERA and 1.2 WHIP, he can still be an intimating force on the mound. The Red Sox also have an injured starter who would have cracked this rotation in Steven Wright who’s shoulder is still injured from a freak accident, diving back into the bag as a pinch-runner. (What a weird decision to begin with.) I think I’d take the Red Sox here with Porcello and Price over Kluber and Bauer.
Offensively the Red Sox and Cleveland were the top two teams with 878 and 777 runs scored respectively. However, there’s something strange looking at those numbers right? Yeah, the Red Sox scored a hundred more runs and this lineup features some scary hitters with Betts (AL MVP in my opinion), Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Bradley Jr., Bogaerts, Pedroia, Shaw, and Leon with Young, Hill and Holt in platoon/bench roles. Cleveland will try to keep up with Santana, Napoli, Lindor, Kipnis, Jose Ramirez, Chisenhall, Crisp and Naquin. Give me the Red Sox here again with that lineup and postseason experience.
Now the bullpen can be really interesting, I have a feeling the starters are going to get knocked around this series. This is where long-relief, split match ups and having the “feel” for the game will come into play. I am intrigued to see how Boston uses Drew Pomeranz if the team needs long relief for three or so innings. However, I’d have to go with Cleveland and Francona here, especially having Allen and Miller at the end of the game over Kimbrel and Uehara. Still, the Red Sox just seem to have the better offense, rotation and health. So…
Prediction: Boston Red Sox in four
So it looks like I have the Red Sox vs Rangers in the ALCS, congrats to Cleveland and Toronto then.
Which crying Jordan will prevail?