Whooooooooo! What a couple of wild card games we had ourselves the last couple of days! If you weren’t excited then, you ought to be now.
With the Blue Jays and Giants moving on, it’s not time to look forward to the Divisional Series that are now upon us.
First up are the Blue Jays and Rangers. Also known as “Round 2.” Because who isn’t excited to see Jose Bautista and Rougned Odor play each other once again?
The last time these two teams played each other was way back in May. I’m sure that’s the last time most remember as Odor delivered a right hand worthy of being in the UFC when Bautista slid hard into second base. However, it is also a rematch of last years ALDS which the Blue Jays won.
The Rangers will send Cole Hamels out to the mound in game one (this will be the 16 time he makes a postseason start) and Yu Darvish out for game two (making his first ever postseason start). Meanwhile the Blue Jays announced their starters all the way through game four of the series going with Marco Estrada for game one, J.A. Happ for game two, Aaron Sanchez for game three and Marcus Stroman for game four if needed. It concerns me a bit to know that the Blue Jays already have their rotation figured out. The Rangers on the other hand only named two starts giving me reason to be believe two things. 1) They’re going to play matchups when it comes to game three in Toronto they’ll decide before they get to there. 2) They have no other viable pitching options behind Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. And looking at their roster, it doesn’t seem that they are very deep in the pitching category. Martin Perez and Colby Lewis are the next two pitchers in line and I’m not so sure that the Rangers can trust them in a five game series against the lineup of the Blue Jays. I’m giving the edge to to the Blue Jays in the pitching category.
Moving to the lineups, we all know what the Blue Jays can hit. It certainly showed in the Wild Card game as they walked off on an Edwin Encarnacion home run. They have reigning MVP in Josh Donaldson as well as Encarnacion and the aforementioned Bautista. It feels as if there is no way you can bet against that lineup getting hot and crushing balls left and right as it is power loaded almost all the way through. The problem the Blue Jays will run into is scoring runs without hitting the ball over the fence. It happened last year when they moved on to face the Royals in the ALCS. Their bats went cold and they couldn’t get past an outstanding bullpen. When you look at the Rangers lineup, it doesn’t look like much but the additions of Carlos Gomez, Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy have helped this team achieve the best record in the American League. The ever so clutch Adrian Beltre is still producing at his old age and there seems to be no stopping this team from having fun. Rougned Odor had a breakout year hitting 33 home runs and solidifying himself as one of the peskiest players in the game. He will be hitting fifth in game one and look from him to have a huge impact on the game despite his unimaginable BB/K ratio on the year. I look for the Rangers to be a little more disciplined at the plate during this series as they look to try and run the Blue Jays starters out of the game as soon as possible. I’ll be giving the edge to the Rangers for having a deeper lineup that doesn’t entirely rely on hitting home runs to score runs.
I’m taking the Blue Jays in 5. Starting pitching will win this series and some timely hitting will ensure that it happens.