ALDS Game 1 Preview: Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays

The Wild Card games are over and the Divisional Series matchups are set. The Texas Rangers will play the Toronto Blue Jays in the best of five series. Pete Hodges has an ALDS game 1 preview of the matchup.

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Texas Rangers (88-74) vs Toronto Blue Jays (93-69)

Blue Jays won the season series (4-2)

Series Schedule:

Game 1 @ Toronto 3:45 PM Thursday, 10/8 on FS1

Game 2 @ Toronto 12:45 PM Friday, 10/9 on FS1

Game 3 @ Texas 8:10 PM Sunday, 10/11 on FS1

Game 4 (if needed) @ Texas TBD 10/12 2015 on FS1

Game 5 (if needed) @Toronto TBD 10/14 on FS1

All times are Eastern

Probable Starters:

Game 1: Yovani Gallardo (R) (13-11) vs. David Price (L) (18-5)

Game 2: Cole Hamels (L) (13-8) vs. Marcus Stroman (R) (4-0)

Game 3: TBD vs. Marco Estrada (R) (13-8)[/box]

Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers were able to pass the Houston Astros in the standings despite a poor start to the season, acquiring Cole Hamels at the trade deadline to lead their rotation.

Overall

The Rangers scored 751 runs this season, good for 3rd place in the AL. They were middle of the pack in hitting home runs (7th place) with 172 long balls. Texas stole 101 bases, putting them in 3rd place. Their team combined to hit .257/.325/.413 with a .300 BABIP. The Rangers had the 5th best wOBA in the AL tied with the Boston Red Sox, hitting .321.

Starters

The rotation had a 62-54 record on the year with a 4.32 ERA, 4.39 FIP and 4.51 xFIP. Their batting average against was .266 and they had a K% of 15.7, while walking 7.6% of batters, with a WHIP of 1.37. The rotation was led by Yovani Gallardo until the acquisition of Hamels.

Veteran Yovani Gallardo takes the hill in Game 1. In his first year outside the Brewers organization, Gallardo put up a 13-11 record with a 3.42 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 4.31 xFIP. The right-hander throws a four-seam fastball (30.61%), slider (29.45%) and sinker (21.79%). He also mixes in a curve (11.44%), changeup (5.07%) and cutter (1.56%). His fastball and sinker sit around 91-mph while his slider comes in around 88-mph.

ALDSpreview-Yovani

The Relievers

The Rangers’ bullpen posted a 26-20 record, sporting a 4.12 ERA in 502 innings pitched. The bullpen had 45 saves and 94 holds, while blowing 17 saves. They had a K/9 of 8.19 and a poor 3.60 BB/9. They allowed a 1.13 HR/9 with a batting average against of .245 and a BABIP of .290.

Shawn Tolleson took over as the closer in late May and finished the season with 35 saves while striking out 9.46 batter per nine innings and walking 2.12.

The Offense

Texas improved in the second half hitting .270/.341/.430, after hitting .247/.312/.400 in the first half of the season. They have a fairly even split when it comes to pitcher handedness, hitting .260/.328/.413 against righties and .253/.321/.414 versus lefties. The Rangers hit much better at home with a .274/.343/.442 line, while struggling to a .241/.307/.385 line away from Globe Life Park.

The Rangers lineup is anchored by their 3-4 hitters, Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder. After them, things get dicey with aging slugger Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton. Although, Napoli has seen a resurgence since being traded by the Red Sox with a .295/.396/..513 line in 35 games with the Rangers.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays made huge moves at the trade deadline, acquiring Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, among others. These moves propelled the Blue Jays to a AL East winning 93-69 record.

Overall

The Blue Jays had by far the most runs scored in baseball with 891 ‒ 127 more than the second place Yankees. They led the AL in home runs (232) and the fourth most steals (88). The team hit a combined .269/.340/.457 with a league-leading .344 wOBA.

The Starters

Toronto’s rotation went 62-54 putting up a 4.32 ERA, 4.39 FIP, 4.53xFIP in 940 ⅔ innings of work. They held opponents to a .266 BAA while walking 7.6% and striking out 15.7%, with a 1.37 WHIP.

The rotation is anchored by Price who was 9-1 in his 11 starts with the Blue Jays, and a 18-5 record between the Detroit Tigers and Toronto. He put up a 2.45 ERA, 2.78 FIP, 3.24xFIP. Price throws a four-seam fastball (28.80%), sinker (24.25%) and changeup (23.05%). He also utilizes a cutter (16.08%) and curveball (7.82%). His fastballs sit around 95-mph while his changeup averages 85-mph.

ALDSpreview-Price

The Bullpen

The Blue Jays’ bullpen had a 26-20 record, with 45 saves, 94 holds and 17 blown saves in 502 innings of work. Their K/9 and BB/9 were 8.19 and 3.60, respectively. The bullpen allowed 1.13 HR/9 and a BAA of .245. Their BABIP was .290.

20-year-old Roberto Osuna took over the closer’s role in late-June and has saved 20 games while only blowing three opportunities.

The Offense

The MLB-leading offense improved dramatically in the second half, hitting .274/.350/.478 after putting up a .264/.331/.441 in the first half. The Blue Jays lineup hit .266/.335/.455 against right-handed pitching, while feasting on left-handed pitching to the tune of .278/.354/.463. At home, the Blue Jays were significantly better than on the road: .278/.351/.485 at the Rogers Centre and just .260/.329/.431 away.

Chicks Dig the Long Ball

Toronto’s high-powered offense is led by MVP candidate Josh Donaldson. Donaldson’s first year in Toronto went as well as anyone could have hoped, hitting 41 home runs with a .297/.371/.568 line. He’s joined by sluggers Jose Bautista (40) and Edwin Encarnacion (39 HR).

Pete Hodges has also written about the origins of the rally cap and the call up of Luis Severino.

Follow Pete on Twitter @PeterWHodges.

Check out Rick Rowand’s preview of the Houston and Kansas City ALDS.

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