Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers
Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees
The Tampa Rays shocked the world when they stormed back from 8.5 back in the AL Wildcard to win it on the final day. Evan Longoria’s solo home run in the 12th inning on Wednesday night came within minutes of the Boston Red Sox losing. The Texas Rangers led the AL West for most of the year and are led by a fantastic offense. The Rangers scored the third most runs in baseball. Another important factor for the Rangers is their bullpen. Mike Adams, Koji Uehera and Alex Ogando will set up for Netali Feliz.
The Rays shocked the baseball world not just for their comeback, but for their announcement stating that rookie Matt Moore would start game 1. Moore only has 9 2/3 innings of work under his belt, but is one of the top prospects in baseball. In his first start of the season, Moore struck out 11 Yankees in five innings. The Rays’ focal point is their starting pitching. James Shields won 16 games, had ELEVEN complete games and finished with a 2.82 ERA. Shields will start game 2. David Price had a losing record at 12-13 with a 3.49 ERA,but had 214 strikeouts. Jeremy Hellickson could possibly be the AL Rookie of the Year, going 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA. Evan Longoria leads the way offensively for the Rays. He finished the year with 31 home runs and 99 RBIs, all of that while missing virtually all of April. Casey Kotchman came out of nowhere to hit .306 and lead the team with a OBP of .378. BJ Upton continues to make baseball people go crazy with his .241 average, but he did hit 23 home runs and had 31 stolen bases.
The Texas Rangers hit 210 home runs and hit .283 as a team. In a shocking development, Michael Young led the team in batting average at .338. It’s the sixth season in Young’s career of over 200 hits. The Rangers had four players hit have at least 25 home runs and five players with at least 242 total bases. Adrian Beltre was tied for the team lead in home runs and led the team in RBIs while only playing in 124 games. He was recently named AL player of the month for September. Ian Kinsler had a 30/30 season as well. CJ Wilson was the Ace of the pitching staff. Wilson won 16 games, had 206 strike outs and a 2.94 ERA. All five starters in the Rangers’ rotation won at least 13 games. Derek Holland, who is starting Game 2, went 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA. Neftali Feliz is the closer for the Rangers and saved 32 games in the regular season. However, fans were worried because his strikeouts were down and his blown saves were up . Mike Adams, the great set up man acquired from San Diego at the trade deadline, posted a 2.10 ERA in 27 games in Texas. Alexi Ogando, who was a starter during the season, will be put in the bullpen to solidify an already great group of relievers. The Rangers won the season series against the Rays 5-4.
-The Detroit Tigers were in a battle for the AL Central until the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox realized how mediocre they were. In the second half, the Tigers found the right mix of offense and pitching to run away with the division. Miguel Cabrera continued his Hall of Fame like career, but got some help from Victor Martinez, Jonny Peralta, and a surprising Alex Avila. Justin Verlander was the best pitcher in baseball to lead the pitching staff. The Yankees were actually a .5 game behind the Red Sox in the AL East as September rolled around. Obviously, the Red Sox went belly up and the Yankees took advantage. The Yankees had the second most runs scored in baseball and used a great bullpen to make up for a lack of pitching behind CC Sabathia. David Roberston is the best setup man in baseball while Mariano Rivera is the best closer in baseball.
The Detroit Tigers were fourth in runs scored in baseball and it’s not hard to see why. Miguel Cabrera hit .344, had 30 home runs, 105 RBIs, .448 OBP and a OPS of 1.033. If Cabrera doesn’t eat or drink himself out of playing shape, there’s no reason why he won’t be a Hall of Famer when his career is over. Victor Martinez was a very nice #2 option for the Tigers, hitting .330 with a 103 RBIs. Alex Avila came out of nowhere to hit .295 with 19 home runs, 82 RBIs and a OBP of .382. Justin Verlander had one of the greatest seasons for a pitcher in baseball history. (24 wins, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 250 strikeouts) Doug Fister came over from the dread of Seattle to go 7-1 for Detroit. Max Scherzer had an up and down year, winning 15 games, but posting a 4.40 ERA. Rick Porcello won 14 games, but posted an ERA close to 5. Brad Penny was terrible, but hey at least he’s going to get married to Karina Smirnoff right? The closer for the Tigers, Jose Valverde, is perhaps the most annoying player in baseball with his antics, but did go 49-49 in save opportunities. The Tigers took the season series against the Yankees 4-3.
The Yankees can absolutely mash the ball. Curtis Granderson had a wonderful year, hitting 41 home runs, 119 RBIs, 136 runs scored and 25 stolen bases. Mark Teixeria hit 39 home runs, but his batting average dipped to .244. Derek Jeter didn’t have a typical Jeter year, but hit .327 after the All-Star break. CC Sabathia was excellent as usual for the Yanks. He went 19-8 with a 3 ERA and 230 strikeouts. Ivan Nova surprised everyone by winning 16 games. Freddy Garcia posted an ERA under 4 for the first time in a decade (Just kidding). Bartolo Colon even posted a 4 ERA. However, no one believes in these starters after CC. The bullpen is the saving grace for the Yankees, led by David Roberston and Mo Rivera. Robertson had 100 strikeouts in 66 innings with a 1.08 ERA. Rivera had 44 saves and a ho-hum 1.81 ERA. The Yanks even got useful innings out of Luis Ayala and Cory Wade who combined to throw up a 2.05 ERA in almost 96 innings.
Verlander and CC for Game 1, can’t have a much better pitching matchup.
After that game, that series might be a shoot out.
Interesting for the Rays going with Matt Moore. I guess they are going with him because A: Not much of a scouting report, B: He’s too young to realize what he’s gotten himself into.
Certainly possible to see both these series go 5, I don’t think any one of these teams are severely better than their opponent.