5 Reasons The Rangers and Blue Jays Will Win
A couple of us writers here at SDI got together and put together five reasons each team will win this series. Myself, Billy, took the Rangers side of things while Leddy Foster took the Blue Jays side of things. So, like it or not, here are five reasons why the Rangers will win the ALDS.
The Rangers will win because:
The Bullpen – Since the trade deadlines deals for Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson, the Rangers have posted a top 10 bullpen in terms of WAR, ERA and xFIP. Take a quick look at the two-halves for the Rangers relievers:
1st Half: 13-13 4.38 ERA, 4.34 xFIP, 0.3 WAR (26th in MLB)
2nd Half: 13-7 3.79 ERA, 3.73 xFIP, 1.4 WAR (10th in MLB)
On the surface, those numbers don’t look very daunting or convincing. In fact, the Blue Jays bullpen has been slightly better, however the so called winning pieces of the bullpen, Shawn Tolleson, Dyson, Diekman, and Keone Kela, have been completely dominate. Tolleson has posted a 2.67 ERA, and a .232 BA and he’s been by far the worse of the bunch and he’s no slouch. The Rangers bullpen numbers are slightly skewed from a couple of clunkers and pitchers not on the postseason roster eating some innings.
Roberto Osuna – Toronto’s 20-year-old rookie closer has been nothing short of spectacular this year – but he is still a rookie. He’s never thrown more than 43 innings in a season and he only threw 23 innings all of last year. He’s already at 69.2 innings this year and he is showing major signs of wearing down. He had a terrible September posting an ERA right at 6.00 and gave up four home runs in just 12 innings. He also had an 0-2 record with two blown saves. If the Rangers are tied with or are trailing the Jays by a run or two, and Osuna enters the game, it is nowhere near a lock for the Blue Jays.
Baserunning – The Rangers are the best team in baseball when it comes to the advanced metric of BsR (base running runs) at 13.3. This article will explain BsR a little more in depth. Bottom line is no one is better than the Rangers at manufacturing runs once on base. Stealing bases, moving first to third, hit and runs, hustle doubles, etc.. are all examples of manufacturing runs. Delino DeShields is a big reason for that, too. If he can get on base, look for him to run – and run a lot.
Rangers Under Pressure – The Rangers record of 27-22 in one run games is by far and wide better than the Blue Jays 15-28 mark. That bodes well for Texas if the starters can keep the game close and get the ball to the guys in the bullpen. The Rangers have a knack for timely hitting in big time situations. When the game is within one run either way, Mitch Moreland hits .324 with a .939 OPS and 56 RBI and when in situations considered “high leverage” Moreland is even better, hitting .373 with a .945 OPS and 39 RBI.
Never Ever Quit – When speaking of Jeff Banister, you just cannot say enough about the job that he has done with this team. The simple fact that guys like Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder have pretty much said they’d run through a wall for this man says it all. He will not let this team hang their heads nor will he allow them to give up or get discouraged. He is the coal that fuels this teams fire. Not everything has to be about stats and numbers. Like I said when he got hired, he’s a dude.
The Blue Jays will win because:
(written by Leddy Foster)
Hunger – Elvis Andrus commented in the celebration Sunday he was spoiled by back to back World Series trips. He now appreciated how hard it was to get to the playoffs, and how more rare it was to do something when there. And although it’s been a while, the Rangers have been in the chase for a playoff spot since 2010, with 2014 the one exception. The Jays, however, are the opposite. Minus a few mid-summer runs, the Blue Jays have had little taste of the Pennant race, and obviously no taste of the post season. Bautista and Encarnacion have zero playoff games on their résumé. Troy Tulowitzki has seen the World Series, but I’m not sure he can remember that 2007 trip. Josh Donaldson, as Rangers fans know, spent two years in the playoffs with the A’s, both trips cut short in the divisional match ups. The heart of the Blue Jays are ripe with hunger as this series gets underway, and that will be the difference between going home, or moving on.
Home Field Advantage – This is bigger than just the support of the fans for three games. This is a baseball fan base that has been without the playoffs for 22 years. Eric Nadel on 105.3 The Fan yesterday, said everyone he had spoken with claimed it was as raucous as any of them remember. The way this lineup can rake, it is imperative for the Rangers to keep their composure, when things start to get overwhelming. In this park, not a chance that happens. And not just contending with the noise, but the Rangers will be fighting the actual building. Balls do strange things on artificial turf, and it’s surely selective memory, but those same balls do really strange things on turf when hit to the Texas Rangers’ defense. With a slugging offense, and not an easy out 1-9, the Rangers cannot afford to give away outs, nor runs, this series, and the home field team will have a clear advantage on their home turf, (see what I did there?). Not to be forgotten, that hard surface field is always a problem for Adrian Beltre and his aging quads. If the Rangers have to play five games, three in Toronto, Beltre running in that stadium could be more of a reason than the Rangers would prefer.
The ROY (maybe) – Roberto Osuna may very well be the Rookie of the Year in the American League. Since taking over as closer for the Jays, the rookie has held opponents to a .191 batting average, and an outstanding WHIP of 0.92. He averages better than a strike out an inning, and has blown three saves all year. He’s as unflappable as any kid I’ve seen. If the Rangers want to win a game, they will need to have the lead when the 8th inning ends.
Marcus Stroman – Much was made about the Rangers and their late season “additions,” Martin Perez and Derek Holland. The Jays have added their own September piece when Marcus Stroman returned from a torn ACL. In four games with the Jays, he is 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA. Holding hitters to a .208 average, while keeping a WHIP of less than 1.00, Stroman has bolstered the Jays rotation in a way no one expected. Suddenly the Jays are two starters deep, and in a five game series, that’s easily enough support for this lineup, to make it a short series.
The MVP (IMO) – Josh Donaldson came to Toronto in the offseason via trade from the Oakland Athletics. Why is another article, and the duty of some blogger in Oakland, if those creatures even exist? Regardless, Donaldson arrived, bringing his big wood to the land of maple. Arguably the best third basemen in the league, Donaldson set out to end any discussion of hot corner prowess. His numbers are outlandish. A slash of .297/.371/.568/.939, with 41 homers, paired with Gold Glove defense at third base, will secure the MVP for Donaldson. Any team with the league MVP has a favorable match up most games. With Donaldson in the middle of this lineup, it’s too much for any opposing staff to hope to conquer.