The MLB Playoffs Move On To The League Championship Series: Here Is The Match Up Review
Finally, after a long and exciting series the L.A. Dodgers outlast the Washington Nationals in game 5 of the NLDS series to go on and face the dangerous Chicago Cubs. So, the playoffs now have the Final Four set with The Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs,which will be a managers chess match. The ALCS is between the explosive Toronto Blue Jays vs Cleveland Indians who are making a magical run through this 2016 season. Lets take a look at the match ups for each team.
ALDS: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cleveland Indians
This series will be determined by both teams bullpens because the starters for both teams have recorded the top two in rotation ERA in the American League,so how well the bullpen plays is crucial from the 7th inning and on. Cleveland has 2.33 ERA in the post season as for the Blue Jays they have a 3.21 ERA in this past series against the Texas Rangers.
Toronto Blue Jays: The line up of the Blue Jays is dangerously explosive, as you saw against the Texas Rangers as the Jays scored twenty two runs in 3 games, with the Toronto three headed monster Edwin Encarnacion (.375,3 HR,7 RBI),Josh Donaldson (.500,14 total bases,3 RBI), and Jose Bautista (.200,2 HR,5 RBI). Scoring runs should not be an issue for Toronto but holding on to a lead in the middle of the game might be, the Jays bullpen will need to hold off the great strategic hitting of Cleveland.
Cleveland Indians: The Indians have a big time advantage in their manager Terry Francona. Francona is a top of the list of the MLB best managers list, right behind Cubs Joe Maddon, Francona is a great strategic mind for matching up line ups and also in oinch hitting situations which will be a big factor late in games. Also, Starting pitching is another advantage for Cleveland with their ace Corey Kluber who pitched one game against Boston and went seven innings with giving up three hits and nine strike outs. Kluber has 3.14 ERA on the season with 227 strikeouts and a 18-9 record.
Player to watch:
Cleveland Indians: Mike Napoli, Catcher/DH
Mike Napoli is always a fan favorite no matter where he is playing, his playoff beard has become a national sensation when he was with the Texas Rangers in 2011-2012, Napoli is having a pretty good year with a .239 batting avg.,34 HR,101 RBI on the season. On the other hand Napoli did not have a good series against his former team,Boston Red Sox, hititng .167 avg and four strikeouts. I would not count Napoli out just yet, Mike Napoli has been known to come up clutch in the past for the Rangers on their way to two straight World Series appearences from 2011-2012, so I would keep Napoli on watch in the ALCS.
Toronto Blue Jays: Josh Donaldson, 3rd Base
Josh Donaldson is one of the most dangerous players in the league with a powerful swing and great base running ability. In the ALDS series against Texas, Donaldson hit .500,3 RBI, and scored 5 times (one being the game winning run to win game 5) he has not hit a home run but he is due for one and i think Donaldson will have a huge series against Cleveland. Batting in front of Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautisa the Indians will not try to pitch around him because of the power following him. Keep a look out for Josh Donaldson in this series to be a huge factor.
NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs
This NLCS has the looks of being one of the best series in the history of baseball. The Chicago Cubs are coming off a 103 win season with a great and young batting line up anchored by MVP hopeful Kris Bryant and a pitching staff with their ace Jake Arrieta. The Los Angeles Dodgers also have a great pitching staff lead by their ace Clayton Kershaw and a veteran line up anchored by first baseman Adrien Gonzalez. This series will a exciting chess match between managers Cubs Joe Madden and Dodgers Dave Roberts.
L.A. Dodgers: I am going to be honest that i do not see a whole lot of advantages for the Dodgers because the Cubs are just equal or better than the Cubs in every aspect of the game. What I do notice is two things. 1. They have Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is a warrior, he pitched 12.1 innings in seven days, he started two games (one on three days rest) then came into game 5 and got the save to send the Dodgers to the NLCS. I have a feeling that Dave Matthews will use Kershaw on short rest again in this series because why not? 2. The Dodgers are a team that will never be out of a game. They came back down two games to none against the Nationals and won three straight games to upset the Nationals. So, I would never count the Dodgers out of any game because of the maturity of the L.A. line up with Chase Utley and Adrien Gonzalez.
Chicago Cubs: The Cubs look like a World Series winning team, they have great pitching, a excellent batting order, and the best manager in the MLB with Joe Maddon. Lets start with the pitching led by one of the leagues best Jake Arrieta pitching 3.10 ERA and two no-hitters in two season with the Cubs. Arrieta is a demanding pitcher who has great command of his fast ball and keeps the strike zone open through out the whole game. Also, along with Arrieta and his dominating pitching he can also hit the baseball, he has 4 home runs in two years and batting a measley .188 but hey at least he can hit better than most pitchers.
Players to watch:
Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant, 3rd base
Kris Bryant is only 24 but is one of the best ball players in the world. He has a strange batting stance but has a lot of power in his swing. Bryant is in serious MVP conversation batting .292, 39 homeruns and 102 RBI. Bryant is a key clutch hitter for the Cubs and is a very patient batter with .385 OBP. I am thinking his presence at the plate against Kershaw will be a great match up. Keep an eye on Kris Bryant.
L.A. Dodgers: Rich Hill, Pitcher
Since Los Angeles has one of the best pitchers this generation has ever seen in Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill will have to be the next guy to step up and try to keep the Cubs power hitters in check. Hill is coming off a great regular season throwing a 2.12 ERA and a 12-5 record with 129 strike outs. So keep an eye out for Rich Hill in game two and possibly games four or five.