With the Blue Jays fresh off the Wild Card win over the Baltimore Orioles, the Blue Jays look towards the Texas Rangers and the ALDS. Many remember last season's playoffs against the Rangers, when Texas went up 2-0 and the Jays rallied to force game 5 then the bat flip happened. That all continued into this season with the Odor punch on Bautista. This series will for sure be a good one.
Texas: The Rangers are set to start Cole Hamels in game 1, Yu Darvish in game 2 and maybe Martin Perez in game 3. The first two games the Jays will be in tough as those are the 2 aces of their staff going back to back. Hamels also pitched against the Blue Jays last season in the playoffs and he was very good throwing 7 inning allowing 2 earned runs with 6 strikeouts and 0 walks. He also pitched game 5 as well as that game 2 outing and in game 5 his line was 6.1 innings 2 earned runs but 5 runs total and had 8 strikeouts and 2 walks. The Blue Jays are in tough as Darvish and Hamels combined are a 22-10 this season. However neither Darvish or Hamels threw a complete game this season. With the Jays bats cold Darvish and Hamels will make it even tougher for the Jays to break the slump, but who knows maybe Encarnacion's homerun gets him hot.
Toronto: The Blue Jays will send Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez out for the first 3 games. They have been the Blue Jays best pitchers this season; however, nobody knows what Estrada will give us with his nagging back injury. Unlike most Jays in September, these three continued to stay consistent and should perform well in the playoffs. Estrada was the anchor for the Jays last season in playoffs saving their season multiple times. The Blue Jays, however, will be in tough against the Texas Rangers who added Jays Killer Carlos Beltran on deadline day.
Advantage: Toronto, I give the Blue Jays the advantage on starting pitching due to the fact that Darvish and Hamels measure pretty closely to Sanchez and Happ, but I would rather go with Estrada than Martin Perez.
Texas: The Rangers bullpen has been good this season, with names like Jeremy Jeffress, Sam Dyson, Keone Kela and Alex Claudio. They aren't Zach Britton, but are very good arms that can come out of the bullpen and shut a game down. Texas' bullpen is a good one that the Jays may be in tough if they are losing late in a game.
Toronto: The Jays bullpen hasn't been good but the addition of Francisco Liriano to the bullpen can add that extra lefty that the bullpen needs. Jason Grilli and Roberto Osuna struggled in September. Grilli pitched very well in the wild card game and looks like he may be back on track; however, Osuna left the wild card game with shoulder tightness and his status is unknown, so if he is unable to go that puts a real blow to the Jays bullpen.
Advantage: Texas has the advantage when it comes to the bullpen with the Jays bullpen struggling heading into the playoffs and that Osuna may be out.
Texas: Texas has a very dangerous lineup that features Adrian Beltre, Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond and Rougned Odor. That lineup can hit home runs and also play the small ball that many say wins playoff games. The Rangers also use speed in game with Ian Desmond, Elvis Andrus, Carlos Gomez and Shin-Soo Choo. Combined they stole 56 bases for the Rangers this year. Their speed is something that unfortunately the Jays do not have unless Pompey is on the ALDS roster. Pompey and Upton are serious base stealing threats with Carrera swiping the odd base. The Rangers lineup will look to swing early and often against these Jays pitchers.
Toronto: The Jays lineup, when everybody is hot, is the best lineup in baseball, as they showed in 2015 with Toronto leading the league in home runs. However, this is not 2015 and the Jays bats have been struggling. Jose Bautista had a down season but did hit a home run in the wild card game. The bats will need to heat up quick against the Rangers pitching or we are in tough.
Advantage: Right now the Texas Rangers have the advantage over the Jays as they are hitting and can steal bases. However, if the Jays bats wake up, Toronto has the advantage as nobody can compete with that lineup when they are hot.
This series could come down to a battle of the managers and who manages better.