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ALDS Game #1 Preview: Rangers @ Blue Jays

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Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

There has finally come a time when a playoff preview about the Blue Jays is not a piece written for merely amusement's sake. At 3:37 today, David Price will hurl the first pitch of postseason baseball that the city (and country) has seen in 22 years. Opposing the Bluebirds in this series are the Texas Rangerswho were previewed in-depth right here. As nearly everyone has heard, the pitching matchup features the aforementioned Price against Yovani Gallardo. The right-hander Gallardo dominated the Jays in two starts this year, but struck out very few and received some good fortune from the batted balls being hit directly out Rangers fielders. So no. The sky is not falling and Yovani Gallardo is not Jake Arrieta. That being said, the 29-year-old veteran should have some success against the Blue Jays lineup, but he rarely sees the end of the sixth inning and the Rangers feature a weak middle of the bullpen which could be a huge factor in today's game.

Gallardo is heavily a fastball and slider pitcher against right-handers, which he will see a lot of in today's contest. Although he doesn't strike many out, he's deceptive and can be extremely difficult to make hard contact against. Without any plus offerings, he works off avoiding bad pitches and big innings. He hasn't gone full-blown Mark Buehrle yet, but Gallardo's K-BB% is actually lower than the Jays lefty so you could definitely group the two veterans in a similar category.

Rare for a game one starter, but there's surprisingly very little to talk about when it comes to Gallardo. He's found ways to succeed even as his strikeout-rate has fallen by 10% since his time in Milwaukee and he should get a solid contract when he enters the free agent market this offseason. In terms of movement on his pitches there isn't a lot that catches your eye, as he puts the ball all over the strike zone and forces hitters to do something with it. He splits his fastball usage about 50% four-seamers and 50% sinkers, but they have pretty similar movement so it doesn't make a huge difference:

Gallardo

David Price meanwhile, goes into this contest on nearly two weeks rest after last pitching on September 26 in Tampa Bay. Since coming to Toronto in the deadline deal with the Tigers, he's pitched to a 2.30 ERA while striking out 87 over 74.1 innings. You could hardly find a more opposite pitcher to Gallardo if you tried. The lefty, who's slightly older, is still throwing mid-90's and likes to stick to his three fastballs in the four-seamer, sinker, and cutter. The righties get to see a nasty changeup as well that fades to the arm-side and mimics his sinker.

The Rangers lineup is chock-full of left-handed hitters and will have a difficult time facing up against the man who has dominated their kind over the course of his career. There's a chance that Mike Napoli will be used in this game to avoid throwing too many LHH at Price, but we shall see if Jeff Bannister is willing to take a page out of Joe Girardi's book when the lineups are posted. If you missed it, the Yankees manager sat Jacoby Ellsbury in the Wild Card game against a tough lefty and they ended up losing.

Rangers Lineup

Mitch Moreland sits:

Probably Blue Jays Lineup

There's still some question of where Troy Tulowitzki will slot back into the lineup, but it should look something like this:

  1. Ben Revere LF
  2. Josh Donaldson 3B
  3. Jose Bautista RF
  4. Edwin Encarnacion DH
  5. Justin Smoak 1B
  6. Troy Tulowitzki SS
  7. Russell Martin C
  8. Ryan Goins 2B
  9. Kevin Pillar CF
The real lineup is out, Tulo hits fifth:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Here&#39;s the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlueJays?src=hash">#BlueJays</a> lineup for Game 1 <a href="http://t.co/bb6TAmlCSZ">http://t.co/bb6TAmlCSZ</a> <a href="http://t.co/BNIDVvPTmh">pic.twitter.com/BNIDVvPTmh</a></p>&mdash; Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) <a href="https://twitter.com/Sportsnet/status/652156457517891584">October 8, 2015</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The bullpen is obviously fresh today and with David Price on the mound, it shouldn't be much of a factor.
Some unfortunate news though regarding the roof today:


Find The Link

For the first time in history, there will be a playoff Find the Link! With erik.t winning the regular season title, the standings have been wiped clean and the contest will last as long as the Blue Jays survive in the postseason. Good luck, they'll be difficult!

Find the link between Yovani Gallardo and the Blue Jay who had 9 RAA in 2011.

I hope everyone gets a chance to watch today's game and make some new memories after 22 years of waiting. The matchup looks extremely lopsided, so let's hope the odds prevail and the Blue Jays go to sleep tonight with a series lead. Enjoy!!!

PLAYOFFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

UPDATE (Minor Leaguer)

Here are the actual lineups: