ALDS Preview: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers

(Courtesy of USA Sports Today)

(Courtesy of USA Sports Today)

TORONTO- It all started with the “Jose Bautista Bat Flip.” Tempers flaring, punches throwing and emotions soaring. There’s going to be some bad blood during the American League Division Series. After the Blue Jays won a dramatic wild card game vs the Baltimore Orioles last Tuesday, they will head to Globe Life Park to face off against the Texas Rangers.

There are some major history between these two clubs. It all started with a bat flip and ended with a nasty brawl. It will be a rematch of last night heated affair with benches clearing and spark between the two ball clubs.

Before we can see tempers heating up, here’s a position-by-position analysis between the Jays and the Rangers

Catcher:

Russell Martin done an outstanding job with the pitching staff during the wild card game as he helped the pitching to limited the Orioles’s potent offence to just 2 runs. The 33-year-old Canadian catcher is the only Blue Jays’ catcher to hit 20 more home runs for the 2nd consecutive seasons. After being traded from Milwaukee Brewers to the Rangers, Jonathan Lucroy has been the most productive catcher this season with a .292 batting average, 24 home runs and 81 RBIs. With Lucroy’s OPS at .855 and Martin’s 733, it’s pretty clear that Lucroy gets the edge. Advantage: Texas

1st Baseman:

Edwin Encarnacion had a career year with 42 homers and 127 RBIs. Though he has play more games as a DH than first base, look for Double E to get some time at first base over Justin Smoak. Mitch Moreland is a better defender than Encarnacion but his offence just can’t match EE. Advantage: Blue Jays

2nd Baseman:

Rougned Odor may be the most hated player for many Blue Jays fans. Everyone knows “The Punch.” However, Odor is a productive second baseman with 33 home runs and 88 RBIs. Devon Travis became a hitting machine batting nearing .300. However, Travis struggled to make routine plays with 11 errors in limited action. Travis does have a better plate discipline than Odor but Odor wins the battle because of his power. Advantage: Rangers

3rd Baseman:
Unlike Odor, Adrian Beltre is probably the most respected Rangers for Blue Jays fans. Give Beltre credit, he did save Jose Bautista during that nasty brawl. At 37, Beltre is the best hitter for the Rangers this season, hitting .300 with 32 home runs and 104 RBIs. Josh Donaldson was on pace to have a better season than he did last year when he won the AL MVP. However he did suffer a minor hip recently. He 37 dinger and 99 RBIs were impressive but his .401 on base percentage was one of his best of his career. With an impressive 6.2 WAR for Beltre, Donaldson’s 7.6 is just flat out unbelievable. Advantage: Toronto

Shortstop:

Troy Tulowitzki overcame his poor start of his first full season with the Blue Jays with 24 home runs and 79 RBIs. He’s also been a great defender as he only committed 9 errors in 128 games this season. Elvis Andrus is a very good shortstop with great contact and gold glove defense. Although he did cost the loss of last year’s ALDS. Remember? Both shortstops are good but Tulo is better overall. Advantage: Toronto

Outfield:

Kevin Pillar continues to show on defense in center field, but too a major step back with his bat with a .267 batting average and 7 home runs. Michael Saunders’ terrific first half performance earned him an All Star nod. However he did struggled the 2nd half, hitting .178. Melvin Upton Jr. and Ezequiel Carrera have the speed and defense to make an impact, but not so much at the plate. The Ranger’s are likely to have an outfield with Ian Desmond, Carlos Gomez and Nomar Mazara. It is possible that Shin-Soo Choo could be an x-factor for the Rangers as well. Depth of the outfield is a huge lead for the Rangers. Advantage: Texas

Designated Hitter:

Jose Bautista will be use as the DH for the Blue Jays. Though it was a injury-plague season for the two-time home run champ, Bautista still manage to hit 22 home runs and 69 RBI’s in 423 at-bats. Carlos Beltran has been productive during his split time with the Rangers and New York Yankees with a combine total of 29 home runs and 93. It’s a close call but Beltran’s production is too good to overcome Bautista’s late surge. Advantage: Rangers

Starting Pitching:

The Rangers have a boosted up rotation with Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. Hamels will start in Game 1 and Darvish will get the nod for Game 2. The rest of the rotation is a bit of a question mark with the inconsistency of Colby Lewis, Martin Perez and Derek Holland. The Blue Jays have their Rotation set with Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ starting in Games 1 and 2. The Blue Jays have a better overall depth, which is the reason why they led the American League with a 3.78 ERA. Although Hamels may be the best starter in this series, the Blue Jays have a better rotation than the Rangers. Advantage: Toronto

Bullpen:

The fear of losing Roberto Osuna may haunt the Blue Jays this series. The 21-year old was outstanding for the Blue Jays, but was forced to leave the wild card game due to shoulder soreness. Look for Liriano to make some relief appearance if the starters can’t go deep. While Brett Cecil, Jason Grilli and Joe Biagini have been the Blue Jays’ reliable relievers, the rest of the bullpen has some question marks, especially with Joaquin Benoit out with a torn calf injury. The Rangers bullpen have a few more reliable relievers with Matt Bush, Sam Dyson, Jake Diekman and Keone Kela. Dyson has been lights out as the Ranger’s new closer. But many Blue Jays know what happen that it was Dyson that made Bautista to have the most historic bat flip last postseason. Advantage: Rangers

This is the match up that everybody wants to see. There’s going to be some major combat between these two teams. But keeping their emotions aside. The Blue Jays will look to shut down the Rangers to advance to the ALCS. Despite the Rangers finished this season with the AL-best 95-67 record, the Blue Jays have a much better overall team thanks to their continuity and chemistry.

Prediction: Blue Jays win the ALDS in 5 games.

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