We’re finally here. The AL Division round starts today with the Blue Jays taking on the Texas Rangers, and the Royals taking on the Astros. Before the Royals burst onto the scene last year, if you had said that any of these teams would be representing the American League in the World Series, you would have been called crazy. So here are my predictions.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers:
Toronto bet big at the trade deadline and acquired Tulowitzki and their ace David Price. This paid dividends as the Jays won the AL East with a superb second half performance. The Rangers fought off the Astros at the end of the season to clinch the AL West and avoid the win-or-go-home wildcard game.
David Price has been unreal since coming to Toronto. In a 5 game series, having an ace that can pretty much guarantee a win or two goes a long way. As far as the hitting goes, Toronto has plenty of it. Martin, Encarnacion, Bautista, and Donaldson all have over 20 homers on the season. That middle of the lineup is flat out terrifying.
The Rangers will be sending Yovani Gallardo out on the mound to face David Price in game 1. Don’t let Gallardo’s 13-11 record fool you. He’s a perfect game 1 starter against the hard hitting Blue Jays. His ERA is just 3.42, and he only gave up 15 homers this year. The Blue Jays rely on the long ball for offense, and Gallardo doesn’t give up many. Texas’ offense is led by Prince Fielder. He leads the team in every stat. They also have four players that had over 80 RBI, and they can get on base. Unfortunately for the Rangers, they just don’t have enough firepower and depth to get around the Blue Jays. They’ll be lucky to steal one game.
Blue Jays win the series 3-0.
Kansas City Royals vs. Houston Astros:
The Royals are back at it. They got off to a quick start and, after acquiring Johnny Cueto from the Cincinatti Reds at the trade deadline, cemented themselves as the AL favorite and possible World Series favorite. Then there’s Houston, the Cinderella of the playoffs. Dallas Keuchel is unbelievable when he takes the mound. We saw what he did against the hard hitting Yankees the other night in the wildcard game. Add Keuchel with a great defensive team and great hitting, and this team is dangerous in a 5 game series.
Kansas City will rely on their ridiculously good defense to keep the Houston hitters off base. They don’t have any starting pitchers with more than 13 wins on the season, but don’t let that fool you. They don’t walk many batters, and that defense can make game-changing plays.
Houston will be sending 19-game winner, Collin McHugh, to the mound to face Yordano Ventura in game one. The Astros had to throw Keuchel on Tuesday night against the Yankees, and he was working on three days rest. This will prove costly for their hopes in this round. Keuchel will likely be pitching once in this series, so I don’t see the Astros continuing their run.
Royals win the series 3-1.