ALDS GAME 2 PREVIEW: RANGERS AT BLUE JAYS

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Today is Cole Hamels Day for the Rangers, and for the Blue Jays it’s Marcus Stroman Day. Blue Jays batters have mustered a career .303/.357/.500/857 line against Cole Hamels and most of the Rangers lineup doesn’t have more than a small handful of at bats against Stroman, and nobody on the team has faced him this year. This matchup isn’t exactly a heavyweight pitchers duel, but it could shape up to be a low scoring affair if recent splits are the trend. Hamels is an ace, and Stroman has shown lately that he has ace stuff. This game should come down to starting pitching, and whichever starter can go deepest into the game is likely to walk out of Toronto with a tally in the win column.

At this writing, Game 2 has a lot of unanswered questions. Will Adrian Beltre play? The Rangers have flown Joey Gallo and Ed Lucas to Toronto in case they’re needed. Will Jose Bautista play? He left Thursday’s game with a calf tightness. Will Josh Donaldson play? He’s been undergoing concussion protocol as a victim of Rougned Odor‘s knee. We’ll find out the answers to those questions shortly before game time, but we’ll presume (unwisely) for the sake of this article that each of those players will be in the lineup.

It’s worth noting that if Beltre’s injury is serious enough that he needs to be replaced on the roster, than he will miss the rest of this series AND all of the ALCS so you can bet the Rangers, and Beltre, will do everything possible to keep him on the field.

Pitching matchup: Cole Hamels vs Marcus Stroman

Rangers

  • For the season: 12 games with Texas – 3.66 ERA, 23 BB, 78 K, 3.79 FIP, 1.195 WHIP. 20 games with Philly – 3.64 ERA, 39 BB, 139 K, 3.27 FIP, 1.181 WHIP.
  • Post-season career: 2007 NLDS, 2008 NLDS, NLCS (MVP), WS (MVP), 2009 NLDS, NLCS, WS, 2010 NLDS, NLCS, 2011 NLDS – 7-4, 3.09 ERA, 81.2 IP.
  • Against the 2015 Blue Jays: Hasn’t faced the Blue Jays so far in 2015.
  • Key match-ups vs. Hamels:

The Keys: Cole Hamels is a difference maker. He’s a workhorse. The Rangers won 10 straight games he started, only having lost his first two starts as part of an AL team. Hamels has the postseason experience, having been part of five straight Phillies playoff teams and two straight World Series teams, even having won the 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP awards. If the Rangers bats can score enough runs to stretch the Hamels win streak to 11, they will take a 2-0 ALDS lead over the team literally every expert picked to win the series. It’s been reported that Josh Donaldson passed his concussion protocol and is likely to start Game 2, and he’s never faced Hamels. Other than Donaldson, the Blue Jays starting lineup will bring a cumulative career slash of .303/.357/.500/.857 into Friday morning’s game. But in October baseball, in the playoffs, Cole Hamels is a different pitcher. In his career, Hamels has a 3.09 ERA, 1.053 WHIP during postseason games versus his 3.31 ERA, 1.147 WHIP for his entire career. If Hamels can be Hamels and do his thing, the Blue Jays shouldn’t be able to scratch out much offense.

 

Blue Jays

  • For the season: 4-0, 1.67 ERA, 6 BB, 18 K, 3.54 FIP, 0.963 WHIP
  • Post-season career: Has never played in the post-season.
  • Against the 2015 Texas Rangers: Hasn’t faced the Rangers so far in 2015.
  • Key Match-ups:

The keys: The only two Rangers batters with hits against Marcus Stroman in his short career are Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre, but the tiny sample size is effectively irrelevant. Stroman only pitched in four games in 2015, and he won all of them, all of which came against AL East competition (Orioles and Yankees). In 2014, Stroman went 11-6 but missed almost the entire 2015 season after a torn ACL early in the offseason. If Stroman is able to hold down Texas’ bats like he did against the powerful Yankees lineup, the Rangers aren’t going to fare as well as they did against David Price in Game 1.

X-Factors

For both: Again, the bullpen. In 2015, the Blue Jays bullpen has been mediocre at best , accounting for an ERA of 3.62 after the All Star Break, while the Rangers bullpen posted a league best 2.05 ERA in September. However, in Thursday’s Game 1 the Blue Jays bullpen didn’t give up anything except a lone 8th inning walk Brett Cecil issued to Mike Napoli. Cecil has been almost unhittable in the 2nd half, especially against left handed batters. It will be up to Rangers righties to get on base against the left handed setup man. Opposite Cecil in the 8th is likely to be Jake Diekman, who carries his post-trade 2.08 ERA into the ALDS, and has been a thorn in the side of right handed batters, so much so, that they have only hit .212 against him this season.

 

American League Division Series Game 2: Texas Rangers @ Toronto Blue Jays

October 9, 2015. 12:45 PM EST/11:45 AM CST

Cole Hamels (13-8, 3.65 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (4-0, 1.67 ERA)

TV: MLB Network in Texas, SNET in Canada

Radio: 105.3 FM The Fan in Texas, SN590 in Toronto, ESPN Radio nationally

Robert Aycock on sabtwitter
Robert Aycock
Robert's first Texas Rangers game was in June of 1991. That was a 15 inning game where Nolan Ryan pitched the first 9 innings, Gary Pettis went 0-6, and Robert was hooked for life. Robert has a pretty exciting job in the real world. He's a corporate tax attorney at an oil company. Don't ask about it unless you want to get really bored.

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