The Wild Card games are over and the Divisional Series matchups are set. TheTexas Rangers will play the Toronto Blue Jays in the best of five series. Pete Hodges has an ALDS game 5 preview of the matchup.
Texas Rangers (88-74) vs Toronto Blue Jays (93-69)
Blue Jays won the season series (4-2)
Game 1: Texas won 5-3
Game 2: Texas won 6-4 in 14 innings
Game 3: Toronto won 5-1
Game 4: Toronto won 8-4
Game 5: @Toronto 4:00 PM 10/14 on FS1
All times are Eastern
Game 4 Recap
The Toronto Blue Jays had their backs against the wall in a win or go home Game 4, giving the ball to veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. However, it wouldn’t be the pitching that saved them, but their number-one-ranked offense.
Ben Revere led off the game with a bunt single. After two pickoff attempts, Josh Donaldson cranked the first pitch he saw for a two-run home run off lefty Derek Holland. Three batters later, Chris Colabello belted a solo home run of his own, bringing the score to 3-0.
Kevin Pillar added a solo home run in the second inning, but Holland kept the other three batters off the bases in the second, giving the Rangers hope that the lefty had settled down. However, this was not the case.
Donaldson drew a leadoff walk in the third and Jose Bautista laced a double to left field, ending the day for Holland. Colby Lewis entered the game with men on second and third, no outs, and his team down 4-0. Edwin Encarnacion hit a groundball to shortstop Elvis Andrus, who threw Bautista out at third. Donaldson scored on the play, but now all Lewis needed was a double play to stop the bleeding. It was not to be, however, as Colabello hit an RBI double, extending Toronto’s lead 6-0. Lewis then got Troy Tulowitzki to fly out to center before walking Russell Martin. Pillar followed that with a line drive single that scored Colabello before Ryan Goins ended the inning with a fly out as the Blue Jays took a 7-0 lead.
Dickey avoided trouble in the first inning after allowing two one-out singles, and pitched a clean second inning. However, a pair of two-out singles in the third inning were followed by a wild pitch that scored Shin-Soo Choo from third. Dickey then got Prince Fielder to line out to center, ending the inning before the Rangers could mount a comeback.
In the fifth inning with two outs and a man on first, manager John Gibbons ended Dickey’s day and turned the ball over to David Price. The lefty ended the inning without incident, and pitched a clean sixth inning.
Lewis held the Blue Jays scoreless in the fourth and fifth inning, and Ross Ohlendorf kept Toronto quiet in the sixth. Jake Diekman entered the seventh inning and struck out Tulowitzki before Martin hit a double to right field. Choo then plated Martin with a line drive single. Diekman got out of trouble with a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play, leaving the game at 8-1.
After erasing an Andrus single by getting Mike Napoli to hit into a double play, Price allowed Rougned Odor to hit a double in the seventh inning. Robinson Chirinos then scored Odor on a single before Price struck out Delino DeShields to end the inning.
Choo led off the bottom of the eighth with an infield single. Two batters later, Fielder hit a single, moving Choo to third base. Choo would then score on a Mitch Moreland groundout, and Fielder on an Andrus single. Price was finally lifted for Aaron Sanchez, who ended the inning by striking out pinch-hitter Drew Stubbs.
That would be it for the scoring as the Blue Jays sent the series back home for a decisive Game 5 with the 8-4 victory.
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.
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.
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.
Game 5 starter Cole Hamels walked off the mound with a no decision in Game 2, the victim of the defensive struggles behind him. He ended up pitching seven innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on six hits and no walks, while striking out six. The playoff veteran will be making his 15th playoff start.
Hamels was traded to Texas in July from the Philadelphia Phillies. The left-hander has reaffirmed his ace status since the trade, posting a 7-1 record, with a 3.66 ERA, 3.79 FIP, and 3.58 xFIP in the regular season. Hamels mostly throws a four-seam fastball (30.94%) mixed with a circle change (23.98%). The southpaw also tosses a sinker (17.51%), cutter (15.47%) and curve (12.10%). His four-seam fastball sits around 93-mph, while his change clocks in at 85-mph.
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.
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.
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.
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 had the fourth most steals (88). The team hit a combined .269/.340/.457 with a league-leading .344 wOBA.
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.
Marcus Stroman was impressive in his playoff debut for the Blue Jays, pitching seven strong innings and allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits, with two walks, striking out five. He, too, received a no decision as Game 2 went into extra innings.
The young phenom takes the mound in Game 5 after missing most of this season with an ACL tear. Stroman made just two rehab starts before rejoining the Blue Jays rotation in the second week of September. He made four starts putting up a 1.67 ERA, 3.54 FIP, and 3.34 xFIP, recording a win in every start. The righty throws a solid mix of pitches including a four-seam fastball (31.15%), sinker (22.18%), curve (15.31%), cutter (14.92%), slider (8.55%), and changeup (7.90%). His fastballs range from 91-95-mph, while his secondary pitches sit between 83-88-mph.
[Note: We used Stroman’s 2014 and 2015 Pitchf/x data combined since he only pitched partial seasons in both years.]
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 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. So far, Donaldson only has one hit in the playoffs, but it was a home run. He’s joined by sluggers Jose Bautista (40), who hit a home run in Game 1, and Edwin Encarnacion (39 HR).