2016 ALDS: Three Reasons Why The Rangers Win and Lose
The Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays will face off in the 2016 ALDS in a highly anticipated match-up that is full of storylines. It’s clear that the baseball gods had something to do with this and if you believe in that kind of thing, you knew this was destined all along.
Naturally one would assume that if this matchup is indeed a work of the gods, that they would swing it our way. It could also be argued that the gods have already made it clear to us that they intend to do no such thing. See the early start times and a Joe West-led umpiring crew as exhibits 1 and 1A. Despite what influence they may or may not be wielding over this series, this thing will most likely be settled on the field. So who has the advantage? Below I will discuss three reasons why I believe the Rangers will win this series and conversely three reasons why I think they will lose.
The Rangers will win because…
The Bullpen has been somewhat of an enigma this season and has taken plenty of flak and deservedly so. Despite that, there are several reasons why this bullpen as presently constructed will help put the Rangers over the top in this series. First off, the bullpen had an impressive 41-20 win/loss record this season. You could dissect this number and give several reasons why this is not a good indicator, but it tells me that the Rangers bullpen was involved in several high leverage situations throughout the season and came out on top 41 out of 61 times. Now if that’s not enough to sway you, let’s look at the top six pitchers in the Rangers bullpen today.
Having six quality pitchers is going to be huge for this Rangers team, especially starting in Game 3 when you may need all hands on deck. Having two quality right-handed set-up men in Bush and Jeffress will also benefit the Rangers against Toronto as the majority of their power comes from the right side of the plate. When you add in the recent team record scoreless streak of 35 and a third innings, it tells you the bullpen is peaking at the right time and will prove to be a deciding factor in this series.
This may be the deepest offensive team in Ranger history. Jon Daniels’ mid-season acquisitions of Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy will prove invaluable in this series as this Rangers team has few if any holes in their line-up. When the guy occupying the nine hole in your lineup is hitting over .300 and raking with RISP, you know you have an insane amount of depth.
Also, think about this, the Rangers can roll out a line-up featuring seven guys who hit 20+ home runs this year. That type of line-up forces an opposing pitcher to nibble on both sides of the plate and rely heavily on breaking pitches. That should allow the Rangers to get to the Toronto bullpen early in games which will play to their advantage. Given the veteran presence in the lineup, the Rangers will be able to get to the Blue Jays bullpen early enough to “never ever quit” their way to the ALCS.
Major League Baseball has their best case scenario. The rematch is here and will only be heightened by “the punch” from earlier this season. Every national media member will be focusing on Rougned Odor and Jose Bautista and you can rest assured everyone will be asked about it.
It would be very easy to get lost in the rivalry aspect of this series and provide unnecessary and unintended bullpen material due to the nature of the questions that will be asked. Thankfully the Rangers clubhouse is full of seasoned veterans who will keep everyone focused on the right things. Veterans like Adrian Beltre, Beltran, Lucroy and even Elvis Andrus know that the best way to deal with the distraction is to act like it does not even exist. The veteran presence on this team will be a deciding factor certainly on the field but off the field as well.
The Rangers will lose because…
While initially, the thought of having Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish as your Game 1 and Game 2 starters is great, there is one concerning stat that could spell doom for them against the Blue Jays. The Rangers starters give up a lot of home runs. In an odd turn of events, this season Cole Hamels has been especially prone to the home run ball giving up 24 dingers on the year.
Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, and Martin Perez have also been prone to the long ball having given up 15, 19 and 18 respectively. More concerning is that Lewis and Darvish pitched far fewer innings than Hamels or Perez and if they had pitched the entire season, they may have been fighting for the league lead in home runs allowed.
One of the things that Hamels and Yu Darvish do well is getting themselves out of trouble. They may put a few runners on base here and there, but they have an uncanny ability to wriggle their way out of trouble. However, it just takes on
However, it just takes on big swing from one of the Blue Jays power hitters to turn a game around which may prove to be the difference in this series.
The Rangers clinched the division almost two weeks ago and wrapped up home-field advantage in time to play two meaningless weekend games against the Rays. The Blue Jays meanwhile have been playing meaningful games for weeks now and are fresh off a thrilling extra-inning walk-off victory.
When the Rangers played the Blue Jays last year, they were fighting for their playoff lives until the last day of the season, while Toronto sat around waiting to find out whom they would play. The Rangers were able to carry that momentum into two wins on the road, which put Toronto in a huge hole that they were eventually able to climb out.
So what happens? Do the Rangers who start slow in games start slow in the series as well? The answer to that question will go a long way towards whether or not the Rangers come out victorious.
Now, this may seem like a silly reason but there a few umpires who have the ability to inject themselves into a game like Joe West does. While ultimately it is the teams’ responsibility to respond to adversity no matter where it comes from, sometimes Joe West makes that nearly impossible. If Joe West decides to make a game about himself, that could be a difference maker in this tightly contested series.
So who wins and who loses? I guess only the baseball gods know for sure.