The ALDS starts today and if the wild card games were any indication of how this Postseason will play out, pitching will make or break teams through October. These match-ups are perfect.
Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Game 1: Cole Hamels (15-5, 3.32 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.48 ERA)
Game 2: Yu Darvish (7-5, 3.41 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (20-4, 3.18 ERA)
Game 3: TBD vs. Aaron Sanchez (15-2, 3.00 ERA)
Game 4: TBD vs. Marcus Stroman (9-10, 4.37 ERA)
Game 5: TBD vs. TBD
I think everyone wants to see this match-up thanks to the Jose Bautista/Roughned Odor drama that stirred this season. I don’t think anything will happen, but it’ll be fun to listen to the crowd in Toronto Game 3 give him an ear full. This could be the best inter-division rivalry in the game right now.
Most might want to see Happ or Sanchez go game 1 for Toronto give the years they had, but I like Estrada matching up with Hamels. Marco Estrada might have the filthiest change-up in the game of baseball. Hamels had a monster year going 15-5 while throwing 200.1 innings and striking out 200 batters. Game 1 will start this series off with a bang.
The game I want to see most is the Darvish and Happ match-up. The Pirates biggest mistake of the offseason after 2015 was not resigning J.A. Happ who turned into a different breed thanks to Ray Searage. He learned how to really pitch to his strengths and he had a great 2016. He never got a chance to throw in the 2015 Postseason, so I’m curious to see how the new and improved J.A. Happ performs in crunch-time.Darvish has some nasty stuff, but came back from Tommy John this year. It’s tough to say if he really is the same. He still managed to strike out 132 batters in 100 innings.
Outside of games 1 and 2, who does Texas throw and when? Colby Lewis? Martin Perez? If they fall behind early in the series they’ll have the back end of their rotation facing one of Toronto’s best arms in Aaron Sanchez. You could maybe throw Hamels again in game 4 on short rest, but it’s not ideal.
I’m taking the Rangers in 5, though. They have the better bullpen.
Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox
Game 1: Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (22-4, 3.15 ERA)
Game 2: Corey Kluber (18-9, 3.14 ERA) vs. David Price (17-9, 3.99 ERA)
Game 3: Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (8-10, 4.40 ERA)
Game 4: TBD vs. Eduardo Rodriguez
Game 5: TBD vs. TBD
No Danny Salazar. No Carlos Carrasco. Trevor Bauer isn’t an ideal game 1 starter for Cleveland, but he creates an interesting match-up. Xander Bogaerts has faced Bauer the most of and Red Sox player with 6 career AB’s. David Ortiz is 4 for 5 in his career vs Bauer with a home run, and Papi is looking to go on with a bang. I can’t see Bauer shutting down this Boston line-up, but they will be at home and Cleveland will be rocking tonight.
The Kluber/Price match-up is definitely the most intriguing out of the listed starters so far. Kluber is a Cy Young finalist this year and David Price had a different year than he is used to. Plus, Price has been known to struggle in the Postseason. I like a lefty against Cleveland’s line-up, though.
Good pitching always beats good hitting, but can it beat good hitting when the whole line-up is loaded? Boston went 4-2 this year against the Indians.
I’m taking the Red Sox in 4. I don’t think the Cleveland pitching can stop the Sox offensive attack without their two stars.