Texas Rangers vs Toronto Blue Jays FS1 & MLB Network
Rangers: Around July 30th when it was announced that the Rangers acquired Cole Hamels through a trade, many people including me were scratching their heads. The Rangers were 49-52 and 8 games out of first place. Many people thought this trade was for next year.
Quietly the Rangers got the last laugh as Hamels helped the team surge to not only make the playoffs but win he AL West title.
This year has also be a year of revivals for the Rangers. Prince Fielder returned to form after being injured for the first time in his career last season. Also kudos to Josh Hamilton being given another shot with his former team after moving on from his personal issues.
Yovanni Gallardo also was a under the radar trade that worked for the Rangers. He will pitch in game 1.
Blue Jays: There is so much to say about this team. They are the most dangerous offensive team in baseball led by possible MVP candidate Josh Donaldson.
And if you pitch around Donaldson, you have to deal with Edwin Encarnacion. And if you pitch around him, here’s Jose Bautista, and if you pitch around him, there’s Troy Tulowitzki who may fully return from injury.
That’s not all. Through some trades that reminded me of the Brewers in 2011, they went all in acquiring David Price who goes on the mound in game 1.
Edge: You can argue that either team has better pitching. However for offense, there is nobody in this playoffs that has a deeper 1-9 lineup than the Blue Jays. Honestly there might not be any team this half decade. Good pitching does beat good hitting in the playoffs, but for the Rangers to win this series, they are going to need better than good pitching to really have a chance.
Blue Jays in 4
Houston Astros vs Kansas City Royals FS1 & MLB Network
If anyone would have told you in 2013 they knew that Houston and Kansas City would be in the playoffs today, they must be lying.
This series is why pure baseball fans love this sport. This series will be exciting on so many levels.
Houston: The Astros have a great core of young players (Correa, Altuve) and some veteran guys like Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez who were acquired from Milwaukee. Also you can’t forget Scott Kazmir who was acquired from Oakland who will pitch in game 3. One thing that the Astros proved back on Tuesday is that this team is not afraid of the big stage. They appeared to easily outplay the Yankees to move on to this series.
Kansas City: As a Brewers fan, I know Ned Yost very well from his days managing the team. He will drive you nuts with his (at times) stubborn baseball decisions, however you can’t doubt his players always wanting to play hard for him. Side note: Can you believe that in 2015, we are talking about a Kansas City Royals team that actually might be favored??
This team has a balance offensive attack that includes speed and power from Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas. Johnny Cueto acquired at the deadline will need to pitch like he did earlier in the season. The Royals got him for the big stage so he will need to step it up.
Edge: Like I said with the Cubs and Pirates, the Astros and Royals are very even. Both have good pitching and timely hitting. The only difference is that Kansas City has the veteran experience now. They went through the AL playing in one of the most amazing playoff game in recent memory last year, and now have had a taste of the World Series.
They will be eager to return or this will be a disappointing season. The Astros were probably never expected by anyone to get this far, let alone a ALDS. I think this series is the most intriguing from a pure baseball fan perspective and proves that smaller payroll market teams can succeed in baseball unlike some of the other professional sports. I see this series going the max.
Royals in 5
Coming up tomorrow: The NLDS Preview.