Three regular season games remaining for Texas.
One week until the ALDS begins.
We know the Rangers are in. We know that we get to enjoy 162+ once again.
But who else is in? Who will we see in the postseason?
Here is a quick look at the other postseason teams and what challenges they may present to to Texas Rangers:
AL East Champions: Boston Red Sox
Boston has been the hottest team in the AL heading into the postseason, having won 11 straight games before dropping the last two to the New York Yankees. Boston still holds out hope for home field advantage throughout the playoffs, sitting 1.5 games back from Texas with four games remaining on their schedule. Boston’s roster mirrors that of the Rangers with a squad that has fun on the field, using excellent young players (Betts, Bradley Jr, Benintendi) who are motivated by the play of their strong leaders, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. Like Texas, Boston has two strong frontline pitchers in Cy Young hopeful Rick Porcello and ace David Price (whose postseason struggles have been well documented). After that, the rotation is shaky but supported by a strong bullpen. Also like Texas, Boston is getting strong play from a veteran player that many people thought was washed up and a head case but was once an All Star (Hanley vs Gomez).
Boston is the current AL favorite in Vegas, and there is good reason for this. The team is solid, well-rounded, and playing with the constant thought of sending David Ortiz out on top. I have felt like Texas and Boston have been on a crash course since about the All Star break, and it still seems that way, but most likely not until the ALCS, with Texas and Boston currently sitting as the 1 and 2 seeds, respectively.
Boston’s last four games include tonight against the Yankees and then three games over the weekend against Toronto, so although they have already clinched the East, their remaining contests will play a large part in determining the destiny of the potential Wild Card teams.
AL Central Champions: Cleveland Indians
Cleveland is limping into the playoffs, quite literally, due to their rash of late season injuries. Cleveland has only gotten 11 games from Michael Brantley (making him their version of Choo, not just because of his expected OBP) due to a shoulder injury. Yan Gomes, the catcher they had in place which prevented Cleveland from viewing Lucroy as their probable starter beyond this year, which resulted in the voided trade, has a broken wrist from a HBP in a rehab assignment.
The pitching staff is in shambles after Carlos Carrasco, the probably postseason #2 starter, took a comebacker off the hand which resulted in a broken bone. Danny Salazar, arguably the best #3 starter in the AL, is out with a flexor strain after suffering from a variety of arm related issues throughout the season. To top that off, staff ace and Cy Young hopeful Corey Kluber left his start early on Monday due to tightness in his right groin.
The road for everyone in the postseason is a hard one, but this year, the path looks the toughest for Cleveland, particularly if their ace cannot move past his day to day status.
Cleveland appears to be the most likely opponent for Texas if the Rangers don’t finish as the one seed, and though this is still a solid team, with young talent in Tyler Naquin and Francisco Lindor, I feel like the Party at Napoli’s has to come to an end soon, whereas the lack of depth due to injury will simply be too much for the Indians to overcome.
Toronto Blue Jays
I mean, we’re all familiar with this team, right? Despite the wishes of most Rangers fans, Toronto might be the team best built for the postseason, with an incredibly deep lineup, a solid group of starting pitchers, and above average bullpen.
Their weaknesses come not in talent, but in the bravado of John Gibbons and the collection of divas in the lineup. To put this simply, just this month, Toronto has been involved in benches clearing incidents with the Yankees (which resulted in losing a reliever for the rest of the season due to a torn calf), Rays, and Mariners. The entire world remembers the incident with the Rangers.
At some point, if your team has a problem with most other teams in the league, then perhaps it becomes time to realize that your team is the asshole, not the entire rest of the league (same realization goes for Madison Bumgarner).
I mean, if the Rangers win it all this year, it’s only right they go through Toronto, right? If Texas finishes with home field advantage, they will draw the Wild Card winner, which if I were a betting man, would likely be the Blue Jays.
The Orioles went with the bold strategy of putting high K rate/huge HR number first baseman all over the field while hoping that Machado and Adam Jones make every defensive play.
It mostly worked. As the season began, I thought that Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, and Pedro Alvarez were all basically the same player. As the season went on, each filled their roles quite nicely (although Pedro took a bit longer than the others).
Baltimore has a nice team, but they do not have the pitching depth to survive through the playoffs. This team can win some games without a doubt, but in a long series, especially after throwing their #1 in a Wild Card play in, the Orioles may have trouble moving on.
Holding on to Hope:
I’ve written off the Tigers numerous times this season, yet here they are, one game out of the 2nd Wild Card spot with four days left in the regular season. The Tigers are at the end of a closing window, with an very experienced quality lineup featuring Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Justin Upton, and our dear old friend, Ian Kinsler. This is still a good team, but the struggle to get in to the playoffs, paired with the age of the lineup, may spell the end for the Tigers very soon.
But, I have been wrong about Detroit about 7 other times this season, so………..
I have to publicly admit something here:
I have secretly been wanting Seattle to make a run and squeeze into the playoffs. Partly because I think they are a less dangerous postseason team, and partly because of their collection of ex-Rangers plus King Felix who is impossible to hate. Seattle is two games back with four left, so they need to win out and get some help, but I have seen stranger things happen, and I know they would LOVE to have a chance to get Toronto in the play in game after everything that happened between the two teams last week.
New York Yankees
The Yankees were able to use a Mark Teixeira walk off grand slam to stave off elimination for another day, but for all intents and purposes, the Yankees are basically done. Impressive run by them though when they cut the dead weight and outside of the Rangers, Texas won the trade deadline this year. The Yankees can force a tie for the second Wild Card by winning out, with one game left against Boston and a three game set with Baltimore, and while that is highly unlikely, their games are very important for the other wild card hopefuls and for home field advantage.
There is no actual chance that the Astros make the postseason, I just wanted to take a moment to point out that this team with superior talent has officially been put to the ground.