Rangers-Blue Jays Bring Their Bad Blood to the ALDS

Joe Clark, Sports Writer

On Thursday afternoon, the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers will take the field at Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX, renewing one of baseball’s newest rivalries. These two teams played each other last season in the ALDS, and Game 5 saw Blue Jays fans throw trash on the field, Jose Bautista’s bat flip, and this absurd play (which is what led to the trash being thrown). Earlier this season when they played, Rougned Odor clocked Jose Bautista in the face, which led to a bench-clearing brawl. Expect tensions to be running high, as both of these teams fight for a spot in the ALCS.


The biggest weakness for both Toronto and Texas lies in the rotation. While the Rangers feature a still-strong Cole Hamels (15-5, 3.32 ERA, 200 K in 200.2 IP), along with Colby Lewis (3.71 ERA), the real key to the Rangers rotation will be Yu Darvish. Darvish has been a stud for the Rangers since returning injury, going 7-5 with a 3.41 ERA (3.09 FIP) and striking out an insane 11.8 batters per nine innings. The Rangers’ 4th starter will be Martin Perez (4.39 ERA in 198.2 IP). Their counterparts in Toronto also have a pretty decent rotation, with J.A. Happ (3.18 ERA in 195 IP), Marcus Stroman, who struggled in the regular season but pitched really well on Tuesday night in the Blue Jays’ Wild Card game win over the Baltimore Orioles (and pitched pretty well in the last year’s postseason), as well as Aaron Sanchez, who is the key for the Jays. Sanchez bursted onto the scene as one of the AL’s best starters this season. Sanchez, who’s 3.00 ERA lead all qualified AL starters, will need to pitch well in Game 3 on Sunday for the Blue Jays to have a chance to win this series. Going up against Hamels on the bump this afternoon is Marco Estrada, who was reliable in the regular season (3.48 ERA) and also pitched well in last season’s postseason. While this matchup is close, i’m going to give the edge to the Blue Jays, as Sanchez and Estrada have the edge over Lewis and Perez, and Games 3 and 4 become more important if the Jays can sneak out a win in one of those first two games. Advantage: Toronto


Both of these teams have good, solid bullpens. The Rangers have Sam Dyson (38 SV, 2.43 ERA), Matt Bush, (who I recommend you read more about here) who has a 2.48 ERA, in addition to Tony Barnette, Jake Diekman, and Alex Claudio. The Jays ‘pen consists of young closer Roberto Osuna (2.86 ERA, 36 SV), Rule 5 Draft Pick Joe Biagini, in addition to Jason Grilli (12.4 K/9), Brett Cecil, and Jesse Chavez. While both of these teams have good bullpens, the Rangers is better top to bottom. The late innings of this series could be very important, and the Rangers certainly win in that category. Advantage: Texas



In a series where every team is so evenly matched, timely hitting can be the key. It’s looking like that will be the case in this series, as neither team has a clear lineup advantage over each other. Both team’s biggest weakness is at 1B, where the Jays start Justin Smoak (87 OPS+) and the Rangers start Mitch Moreland (87 OPS+). In LF, the Jays have the superior defensive LF in Kevin Pillar, but his 81 OPS+ is 11 points worse than the Rangers’ Ryan Rua’s 92 OPS+. The big hitters in the lineup for the Rangers are Rougned Odor, and not only because of this, but because of his 33 HR and 105 OPS+. Adrian Beltre has also shined with the Rangers this year (32 HR, 104 RBI, .300/.358/.521) to add another impressive season onto what will be a Hall of Fame career. Ian Desmond, whom the Rangers signed for a mere $8 million this offseason, and then turned him into a CF, has also had a productive season (22 HR, 86 RBI, 104 OPS+). Elvis Andrus has also bounced back this season at the plate, as he is sporting a solid 110 OPS+ to go along with 8 HR and 69 RBI. The Jays lineup is also impressive, with reigning AL MVP winner Josh Donaldson (37 HR, 99 RBI, .284/.404/.549) alongside Tuesday’s hero Edwin Encarnacion (42 HR, 127 RBI, .263/.357/.529). Jose Bautista went yard on Tuesday night, and while he didn’t have the greatest regular season, he still posted a 117 OPS+. While both of these teams have great lineups, the Rangers is deeper, and they also have the 2nd best offensive catcher in baseball in Jonathan Lucroy, whom they acquired at the Trade Deadline. Because the Rangers lineup is so deep i’m going to give them the edge here. Advantage: Texas



Toronto’s deeper pitching staff will lead them to a win in a tight five game series.