ALDS Game Fives; Who’s Going to Win?

Posted: 10/14/2015 by levcohen in Baseball

Both of my NL predictions looks pretty good right now, with the Cubs punching their ticket to the NLCS and Clayton Kershaw pitching the Dodgers to game five, where Zack Greinke will have a chance to beat the Mets at home and advance to the next round. Now it’s time to move to the AL, where both matchups are heading to a dramatic conclusion in game five. Will both favorites win at home? Or are we headed for an all-Texas, all-AL West ALCS?

After they dropped the first two games of their series with the Rangers, I have to say that I gave up hope on the Blue Jays, the World Series favorites entering the playoffs. But the Jays, the team with by far the best offense and run differential in baseball, are more resilient than I thought they were. They took games three and four in Arlington, which means they’ll have game five tonight in Toronto. And after winning two straight, I can’t pick against them here, right? Yes, the pitching matchup, Cole Hamels against Marcus Stroman, probably favors Texas. But the Jays scored 891 runs this season, 140 more than the Rangers. Their bats have also woken up a bit over the last two games, as they’ve scored 13 runs on 21 hits in the last two games. Surprisingly, it’s been the lesser-known bats who have carried the offense; with Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Troy Tulowitzki struggling, Ryan Goins, Chris Colabello, and Ben Revere have led the team in hitting. Possible MVP Josh Donaldson is playing well, but he’s the only one of the stars who is clicking offensively right now. That’s not a good thing for the Jays, but it’s also scary for any future opponents; this is a series they might be able to win despite being far from at their best, which is rare in the playoffs. Luckily for them, while Hamels is a good pitcher, he’s also left-handed, and the Blue Jays killed lefties this year, hitting .274/.354/.463 against them, far better than they hit against righties. Having Stroman on the mound is a bit worrying, as he missed most of the year with an elbow injury before returning in September. Stroman, though, has been excellent since his return, giving up just 25 hits and eight runs in 34 innings including a game two start. The bottom line is that I have more confidence in Toronto’s offense than I do in Texas’s, while I think Stroman could (but probably won’t) throw a gem. The Blue Jays will win this game 6-4.

The night game, the marquee matchup, is… Royals-Astros? Yep, that’s what we’re looking at tonight, and I love it. Having no Yankees or Red Sox in the playoffs is refreshing, and seeing either one of these long-suffering teams win it all would be great. One of them is going to get eliminated tonight, though, and I think the Royals will be that team. I’m not enamored of either Collin McHugh, Houston’s shaky starter, or Johnny Cueto, who’s been terrible since being traded to Kansas City, but I have more confidence in McHugh than I do in Cueto. And while I can rely on three guys in KC’s bullpen (Wade Davis, Luke Hochevar, and Kelvin Herrera), the rest of the pen is a lot shakier than it was this time last season. Greg Holland is out and Ryan Madson has been bad, which means this really is a three man bullpen. The Astros also have a three man pen, but I think the difference might be Dallas Keuchel, the ace who has gotten the W in both Astros wins and could pitch an inning or two in relief. Because a couple of guys (Colby Rasmus, Carlos Correa, Chris Carter) with a lot of power are absolutely raking for the Astros, I also have a bit more confidence in their offense than I do in Houston’s. All of that means the Astros will pull off the upset against “ace” Johnny Cueto and head to the ALCS after a nail-biting 5-4 win.

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