ALDS Game 2 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 2 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: Texas won 5-3

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

Game 3: Martin Perez (13-8) (L) vs. Marco Estrada (R) (13-8)

Game 4:  TBD vs. R.A. Dickey (11-11) (R)[/box]

Game 1 Recap

The Rangers were able to score two runs off of David Price in the second inning, and never gave the lead away. Price ended up hanging in there to pitch seven innings while allowing five runs. Yovani Gallardo threw five innings of two run ball on the way to his first postseason victory in four years. Robinson Chirinos hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning which would prove to be the winning runs in his first playoff game.

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.

Ace Cole Hamels will start Game 2 for the Rangers. Hamels was traded in July from the Philadelphia Phillies. The left-hander has earned his ace status since being traded with a 7-1 record posting a 3.66 ERA, 3.79 FIP and 3.58 xFIP. Hamels mostly throws a four-seam fastball (30.94%) along with a circle change (23.98%). The southpaw also mixes in a sinker (17.51%), a cutter (15.47%) and a curve (12.10%). His four-seam fastball sits around 93-mph while his change clocks in at 85-mph.

ALDSpreview-Hamelsfixed

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. Tolleson did not get the save opportunity in Game 1. The likely reason for this is that the Rangers had a three-run lead and Game 2 is at 12:45 today and the Rangers wanted to rest the closer if possible.

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.

Ouch!

Third baseman Adrian Beltre injured his back sliding into second base in the first inning during a double play. He remained in the game until the third inning when he drove in Delino DeShields to increase the Rangers’ lead 2-0. Beltre appeared to cause more damage to his back during the swing and reluctantly left the game. It is unclear whether or not the veteran will play in Game 2.

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 young phenom, Marcus Stroman will take the mound in Game 2 after missing most of this season with an ACL tear. Stroman only made two rehab starts before rejoining the Blue Jays in the second week of September. He made four MLB starts putting up a 1.67 ERA, 3.54 FIP and 3.34 xFIP, and recorded a win in every start. The righty throws a solid mix of pitches including a four-seam fastball (32.25%), sinker (21.09%), curve (83.32%), cutter (15.12%), slider (15.12%) and changeup (7.99%). His fastballs range from 91-95-mph while his secondary pitches range from 83-88-mph.

ALDSpreview-Stroman

[Note: We used Stroman’s 2014 and 2015 Pitchf/x data combined since he only pitched partial seasons in both years.]

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.

Uh oh

The Blue Jays had a pair of their own scares in Game 1. MVP-candidate Josh Donaldson suffered a head injury attempting to break up a double play in the fourth inning. Toronto have told reporters that Donaldson passed the MLB-mandated concussion tests and will most likely play in Game 2. Jose Bautista did not play the field in the ninth inning due to cramping in his right hamstring, but said that he would play in Game 2.

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

Follow Pete on Twitter @PeterWHodges.

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