Get ready Baseball Fam. It’s finally October, and the postseason is upon us. From the start of this month until November, TV screens will be filled with America’s Pastime at it’s core. Before it starts, I will be previewing what should be one of the most thrilling series of the postseason – The 2016 ALDS – between the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians.
Coming from a Red Sox fan, this series is obviously very important to me. You might be wondering why, considering Boston has already won the World Series recently in ’07 and ’13. For some fans, they’ve never even experienced a World Series victory their entire lives, and just being able to witness at least one would satisfy them. But for me, and the entire city of Boston, we are the city of champions. Nothing is ever enough, which is why we expect a thrilling postseason EVERY year. This season has proven to be a very special one, with Boston securing the American League East for the first time since 2013. And what happened in 2013? A World Series Championship for the Boston Red Sox. So now, if you couldn’t see before, this is why the expectations are incredibly high for Boston and all it’s fans.
The Red Sox were proven to be the best offensive team in all of baseball this season, so their bats are clearly a giant threat. Boston led the American League in runs scored per game (5.42), total runs scored (878), hits (1,598), doubles (343), RBI’s (836), batting average (.282), OBP (.348), SLG (.461), OPS (.810), and total bases (2,615). Before writing this up, I didn’t even know we led the AL in that many categories. Holy shit.
Pitching, on the other hand, was just about average. Boston was off to a very slow and shaky start pitching wise, but pulled it together in the late going and the pitching staff proved to be very composed and consistent towards the end of the season. With the offense that Boston has, pitching should not be that much of a problem. As long as starting pitching isn’t giving up 6+ runs to Cleveland in the ALDS, they should be just fine.
Now we get to Cleveland. Everybody knows how good Cleveland has been playing this year. Good enough to clinch an American League Central Championship. Even though Boston is far more experienced in the postseason, these 2016 Indians will make it everything but a walk in the park for the Red Sox. Yes, Boston’s 5.42 runs per game is unbelievable. But guess who finished 2nd in that category with 4.83 runs per game? Yup, the Cleveland Indians. Cleveland also finished 2nd in runs scored (777), doubles (308), and OBP (.329). These are two of the best offensive teams in baseball going at it in this ALDS, so expect this to be nothing less than an electric series.
And with the second best ERA in the American League (3.84), these Indians will be a threat not only offensively, but on the hill as well.
Game 1 – Boston @ Cleveland : Rick Porcello vs Trevor Bauer
This should be a very interesting match-up. Rick Porcello could very well win the AL Cy Young award this season, so that statement alone should fill you in on how well he has pitched this year. Porcello pitched one game this year against Cleveland, where he picked up the win after pitching 5.2 innings and only surrendering 2 earned runs. He has a career record of 5-3 at Progressive Field with a 2.84 ERA in 12 starts.
For Cleveland, Trevor Bauer has had a very solid season, arguably his best season yet. He went 12-8 with a 4.26 ERA. Bauer has pitched in three games against Boston in his career, with a 12.91 ERA in that span.
Advantage – Rick Porcello
Game 2 – Boston @ Cleveland : David Price vs Corey Kluber
If I told you at the beginning of the season that these two teams would face each other in the ALDS, you would probably assume that David Price vs Corey Kluber would be the game 1 match-up. Well, it isn’t, which makes this series that much better. David Price has had a pretty solid first year with Boston. He was off to a shaky start, but rebounded very well, allowing him to get the nod for Game 2. Price finished 2016 with a 17-9 record and a 3.99 ERA. He also led the AL in innings pitched (230). In one game pitched against Cleveland this season, Price went 6 innings giving up 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 10. Very solid start, but we all know how Price pitches in the postseason. In the postseason, Price has a record of 2-7 with a 5.12 ERA in 14 games. Hopefully for Boston, Price can turn things around and pitch the way we all know he can.
Corey Kluber has pitched fantastic this season, and he has been in the AL Cy Young consideration all year. Kluber went 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA, and was an even 1-1 against Boston this year. Although Kluber should have the advantage in this match-up, he left his last start after 4 innings due to a quadriceps strain.
Advantage – Even
Game 3 – Cleveland @ Boston : Josh Tomlin vs TBA
Game 3 will take place at Fenway Park in Boston, and Josh Tomlin has received the nod against the Red Sox. For Boston, it has not been officially announced on who will take the mound in Game 3. Whether it’s Clay Buchholz or Eduardo Rodriguez, the match-up should lean in Tomlin’s favor. Tomlin finished 2016 with a 13-9 record and a 4.40 ERA. He faced Boston once this season and lost after giving up just 3 runs on 7 hits. Both E-Rod and Buchholz have an ERA around 4.75, but I would personally go with E-Rod for Game 3, only because of his consistency during the regular season. Per usual, Buchholz was all over the place statistically and physically. He went back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen, and his numbers varied.
Advantage – Tomlin
As you can see, this serious should be ecstatic. Thursday can’t come soon enough.