2016 ALDS Preview

Red Sox-Indians

Boston is one of few teams in this postseason that has remained consistent throughout the year.  They have the best offense in baseball, fueled by guys like Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroria hitting over .300 on the year, and David Ortiz having what might be the best farewell season ever.  However, their pitching hasn’t been among the very best teams in the league, as it ranks behind non-playoff teams like Seattle and Miami.  But we know this season has been all about offense.  If you can score runs, you’re gonna win games.

The Indians haven’t been as consistent, but its not entirely their fault.  Cleveland has sustained terrible luck (Like usual when it comes to their sports team) when it comes to injuries.  Carlos Carrasco, who was having a fantastic year, broke his hand late in the regular season.  Danny Salazar’s forearm acted up, leaving their No.3 starter out of this series too.  And the Indians got screwed over by Jonathan Lucroy at the trade deadline.

So yeah, a lot has happened.  But they’re here, and they’re gonna give Boston a fight.  The Indians can hit too.  Cleveland scored the fourth most runs this season.  I think that Boston’s pitching staff can be exposed.  Everyone is gonna look at Rick Porcello’s record and be afraid, but this is only going to be his 3rd career postseason start.  After Porcello comes David Price, which presents its obvious challenges.  After those two though, Boston’s rotation seems beatable.  Eduardo Rodriguez could find himself starting a game or two, which isn’t great considering his 4.71 ERA and inexperience.  Cleveland could be blessed by Clay Bucholtz getting a start, who’s been much more dreadful than his 4.78 ERA suggests.  His FIP is sky high at 5.06, and the Indians drew the eighth most walks in the league this season.  Thats a suicidal matchup for Boston.

However, the Indians rotation has its cracks too.  Corey Kluber is comparable to David Price when it comes to the difficulty of the matchup.  His walk numbers have been high this year, but Boston has some of the worst plate discipline in the league, via Fangraphs’ Swing% stat.  Behind Kluber, the Indians lack postseason experience.  Neither Trevor Bauer or Josh Tomlin have pitched in the playoffs before.  Tomlin’s ERA and FIP are both above 4.40, which is troubling considering the inexperience.  Trevor Bauer has had a better year than Tomlin, but walks a very high 3.3 guys per nine innings.  Boston has the offense that can capitalize on this.  Its so much more explosive than Cleveland’s.

Both bullpens are fantastically crafted, though I’d be surprised if these games will be determined by it.  I feel like some of the leads we’ll see in this series will be to big, one way or the other, for the bullpens to really have an impact.

Cleveland had a great year, but unfortunately I think they got the worst possible first round matchup.  Boston’s lineup will prove to be too much against a inexperienced and lackluster rotation.  Again, its not their fault.  They just had bad luck.

For Boston, I really believe this team could be World Series bound.  I’m not gonna get too far ahead of myself, but the Red Sox have offense, which as we’ve seen, gets you very far this season.  But pitching matters in the postseason, and the Red Sox have enough of it.  I just can’t trust Cleveland’s rotation, especially against a lineup like this.

Prediction: Red Sox in 4

ALDS: Blue Jays-Rangers

We got what we wanted.

You’re not a baseball fan if you didn’t want to see a rematch of these teams, unless you’re an Orioles fan (Sorry Orioles fans!).

Forget the baseball side of this series.  The emotion and heart we’re gonna see in this series isn’t matchable this postseason.  Toronto plays with so much hype and joy that it makes it hard to root against them.  Texas is a team full of animosity and guys who’re always pissed off.

Toronto is scary.  If I’m Texas and I watched the AL Wild Card Game, I’m pretty scared.  Sure, the Blue Jays got a little bit lucky that Buck Showalter made a bonehead decision to not bring in Zach Britton.  But the Blue Jays, dare I say it, are clutch.  Things go their way when it matters.

Thats not great for Texas, mainly because this bullpen is in the bottom six-or-so in the league.  Sam Dyson has been very effective this season with a 2.43 ERA, but I don’t think Dyson is looking forward to pitching to Josh Donaldson or Jose Bautista again.  Matt Bush and Tony Barnette have been Texas’ best relievers, but this is Barnette’s first season in the MLB.  He has no postseason experience, and has an issue with walks.

Texas’ bullpen doesn’t give up home runs.  Thats the rotation’s problem.

The Rangers rotation had a hard time in the 2nd half.  No one could keep their ERA under 3.40, but injuries could have a say in that.  Overall, this rotation gives up way too many home runs.  Colby Lewis’ HR/9 is 1.47, way too high for a solid No.3 starter.  Martin Perez has Barnette’s problem.  Perez’s strikeout to walk ratio is a putrid 1.36, worst in the league by far.  Other Rangers starters have the same issues with home runs and walks.  Its something that I’m sure the Blue Jays can’t wait to get their hands on.

Toronto has to score early in these games, because while the Rangers’ bullpen isn’t great, the stats are in their favor when dealing with the rotation. Sure, scoring off of Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels has its challenges (FIP loves Darvish; not so much Hamels), but the back of this rotation is pretty weak.

Its not accustom for the Blue Jays blow teams out of the game early.  They do their thing; keeping it tense and waiting for the big moment.

Toronto has really solid starting pitching going into this series.  They don’t have the 1-2 power punch that Texas does, but there’s much more depth.  That matters in October.

The Blue Jays don’t have home field advantage, but they’ll win this series at home.  Thats where they’re most comfortable, and its probably where the Rangers are least comfortable after last year.

Texas, I think, is a little rattled coming in.  Toronto knows how to capitalize off that.  I think they will.

Prediction: Blue Jays in 4