Texas (0-0) at Toronto (0-0)
When: Thursday, October 8th, 2015
Where: Rogers Centre, Toronto, ON
Time: 3:35 ET
TV: FOX Sports 1 Radio: XM 176, 89
The Toronto Blue Jays will play in their first postseason game in 22 years as they host the Texas Rangers Thursday afternoon in Game 1 of the A.L. Division Series. Toronto had a remarkable turnaround this season when they acquired Troy Tulowitzki and David Price before the trade deadline. They went 42-15 down the stretch until the final week when they lost 4 of their last 5 meaningless games. Josh Donaldson who will probably be the American League MVP, hit .297 with 41 homeruns, 122 runs scored, and 123 RBI. Tulowitzki, who is battling shoulder problems, hit only .239 for the Blue Jays after a great start with them. Price was probably the most important acquisition, because the Jays needed starting pitching if they wanted to go deep into October. He was 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts for Toronto. Price will have 11 days rest between starts so the possibility of early inning command issues does exist. Price won each of his final five regular-season starts but is just 3-4 with a 5.15 ERA in 11 career regular-season outings against the Rangers and is 0-3 with a 4.66 ERA in three postseason starts against Texas when he was with Tampa Bay. Overall, he’s 0-5 with a 4.98 ERA in five career postseason starts.
The Texas Rangers were one of biggest surprises in Baseball this year. They won just 67 games last year, but finished this season with a 88-74 record and an A.L. West Division title. They did is mostly with their hitting. Adrian Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo got real hot down the stretch with Choo earning September Player of the Month honors. Beltre hit .328 with 10 homeruns and 56 RBI over the last two months of the season. Texas was third in the majors in runs scored and 8th in OPS. Their pitching was a struggle all year, but the acquisition of Cole Hamels from the Phillies has really helped. Yovani Gallardo defeated the Blue Jays twice this season and didn’t allow a run in 13+ innings. Those were the only two wins Texas had against Toronto this year in six games. He was 2-2 with a 4.85 ERA in six September starts and has not past pitched the 6th inning since June 27th. That means the Rangers bullpen will need to be ready. The ‘pen ended the season with a 4.12 ERA.
I don’t care that Gallardo has beaten the Jays twice this year. I just don’t trust him in this spot the way he’s been pitching down the stretch. Despite Price’s postseason struggles, I expect him to silence the Rangers bats in Game 1. Look for Toronto to do what they’ve done all year, and that’s put teams away early.
Pick: Blue Jays -1.5 -115