Thursday, the and begin their best-of-five American League Division Series with Game 1 taking place at 3:30 in Toronto. Here’s the series schedule, with Game 4 and 5 obviously being of the “if necessary” variety.
DateTime (ET)SiteStarting PitchersThu, Oct. 83:30pmRogers Centre vs. Fri, Oct. 912:30pmRogers Centre vs. Sun, Oct. 118pmGlobe Life Park vs. Martin PerezMon, Oct. 12*TBDGlobe Life Park vs. TBAWed, Oct. 14*TBDRogers CentreGallardo vs. Price
Here are 9 things to know:
The Blue Jays were 45-46 and 4 1/2 games out of first at the break while the Rangers were 42-46 and six games out. Post-break, Toronto went 48-23 (best record in baseball) while the Rangers were 46-28 (third in , with the being second).
If we started with August 1 — which isn’t arbitrary, due to it being the day after the trade deadline — the Blue Jays (40-18) and Rangers (38-22) are again the best two teams in the AL (behind only the Cubs in MLB).
The “hot hand” theory doesn’t necessarily translate, as the Rangers won only four of their last nine games and the Blue Jays — immediately after clinching — won just one of their last five, but that doesn’t matter much. The basic jist here is these two teams have proven down the stretch to be among baseball’s strongest.
The Jays scored 891 runs this season, which was 127 more runs than anyone else in all of baseball. This is the most runs one team has scored in a season since 2009, when the scored 915. They won the World Series.
The Blue Jays also led the majors in doubles, home runs, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and much more. They have three players who hit at least 39 homers in (41), (40) and (39), but it’s a well-rounded offense as well.
(.319/.354/.381) has proven a good table-setter, (31 doubles, 12 homers, 25 steals) is a fine power-speed combo, (23 homers) and (18 homers) provide down-order power and hit .321/.367/.520.
This offense once scored at least 12 runs four times in a seven-game span.
For myriad reasons, the Rangers’ offense wasn’t very good in the first half, but things have picked up since then. In fact, since the All-Star break, the Rangers weren’t that far off the Jays.
Rangers,h Richards has defended his old club in the wake of their two season Champions League ban.City have expressed their intention to appeal UEFA’s ruling, with the case being taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport with club chiefs hoping to have the 2nd half: .270/.341/.430, 381 R, 5.15 R/GBlue Jays, 2nd half: .274/.350/.478, 405 R, 5.70 R/G
The power and overall runs per game numbers show the Blue Jays were still better, but it’s not like we’re talking about the compared to the Jays. The Rangers were third in baseball with 764 runs scored overall.
They don’t overall have the gaudy numbers, but there are some veterans with established track records to close the season hot, such as hitting .318/.376/.509 with 61 RBI or hitting .343/.455/.560 with 56 runs in 74 second-half games. Take note of ‘s outstanding bounce-back season that likely wins him Comeback Player of the Year, too.
In six regular season games between the two clubs, the Jays took four of six while outscoring the Rangers by 13. In a late-August series in Texas, with both teams playing real good baseball, the teams split close games while the Jays took a blowout (12-4) to win the series.
David Price did pitch while Cole Hamels did not.
Long gone are the early-season days when the Blue Jays had a great offense but terrible pitching staff. Did you know that Estrada’s 3.13 ERA ranks fifth in the AL among qualifiers and would lead Texas’ staff? He’s third in line in Toronto, where proven playoff ace and possible Cy Young winner Price fronts things.
Next up, the 24-year-old Stroman, whose torn ACL in the spring may wind up proving a blessing in disguise, given that he only logged 130 2/3 innings last season and now has zero workload concerns — unlike, for example, the ‘ youth — heading to the playoffs. He’s been lights out since returning, too. In four starts, Stroman is 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA. He threw the clincher in Baltimore and was missing bats with ease; almost a swagger with his slider. He was locked in.
So this ends up a pretty strong big three, though many in America may not have noticed.
The Rangers go with Gallardo in Game 1 and he is 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA. The problem is was full of praise for Dani Ceballos after their 1-0 win over West Ham.Ceballos played a crucial role in Arsenal’s win, having the most touches on the pitch with 121, while also completing the most passes with 86.Speaking on BBC Radio 5 live during he doesn’t miss many bats (5.9 K/), allows too many baserunners (1.42) and has a history of allowing the longball (at least 20 HR in four different seasons, though he allowed only 15 this season). He’s facing David Price and the best offense in baseball in Game 1. He did hold them down twice this season, though. Can he make it three?
Behind Gallardo is Hamels with a very good postseason track record. He has a 3.66 ERA since being traded to Texas, but a career ERA+ of 124. He’s got ace stuff when he’s on.
Since a shutout on Aug. 30 and another great outing next time out, has been awful, posting a 7.62 ERA in five starts. With eight career shutouts in 138 starts, though, we know he’s plenty capable of pitching well on any given night. Young lefty has electric stuff and finished the season strong while has a 2.34 carer postseason ERA. [ Perez will pitch Game 3 with Game 4 starter not yet announced]
Don’t mistake these teams for being all offense and no rotation.
The Rangers’ bullpen had a 2.52 ERA (best in AL) and 1.13 WHIP with 92 strikeouts in 93 innings since the beginning of September. The Blue Jays — after a 2.08 bullpen ERA in August — relievers posted a 5.08 ERA and 1.35 WHIP from the beginning of September to the end of the season.
For the entire season, though, the Blue Jays (3.50, fifth in AL) had a better bullpen than the Rangers (4.12, 11th in AL).
We all know that home-field advantage in baseball isn’t anything like it can be in football or basketball, but there’s still a level of comfort to playing at home and pretty much everyone is better at home than on the road.
The Rangers aren’t, though. At least they weren’t in the regular season. They were 45-36 away from Globe Life Park, which was the best road record in the AL (only the Cubs were better in baseball at 48-33).
Of course, the Blue Jays at 53-28 were tied with Houston for the best home record in the AL.
They went 15-28 in one-run games this season, which is utterly ridiculous for a team of this caliber. They almost lost 2/3 of their one-run games, which only 12 teams in the wild-card era have done and they were all below .500 and most were terrible ().
Yet somehow the Jays won 93 games while being 13 below .500 in one-run affairs.
Is this some kind of fundamental skill the Blue Jays lack? I remember trying to explain it the other way when it came to those 2012 . You have to have a good bullpen, particularly the back-end (so bad in this case) and good situational hitting (so bad in this case) in addition to several other factors that are probably tough to quantify.
The Jays’ pen ranks fifth in the AL in bullpen ERA while rookie closer was 20 of 23 in save chances (uh oh, though, 6.00 ERA and two blown saves in Sept.). The Blue Jays hit .241/.310/.406 in “late and close” Klopp found an instant connection with the club when they joined.Fans were unsure of what to expect of Klopp when he arrived, given the way his tenure at Borussia Dortmund ended.However, he managed to take the club to new heights, winning the Champiosituations this season while hitting .243/.340/.423 with two outs and runners in scoring position this year.
That’s not as good as in other situations.
At least in the case of situational hitting, we can’t say this will carry over into postseason, but it certainly helps illustrate so many close losses by such a good team.
The Rangers finished in last place in the AL West last season. Only two teams have ever gone worst-to-first and then won the World Series: 1991 , 2013 .
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