Texas Rangers Interview: The Blue Jays Side of ALDS


Oct 7, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, USA; Texas Rangers manager

Jeff Banister

talks to the media during workout prior to game one of the ALDS at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

With a big playoff series, it is always a good idea to study up on the opponent. It makes the viewing experience more fun, and it allows you to sound smart with the co-workers. In order to do that, we thought there would be no better way than checking in with the enemy, as they know the ALDS opponent better than anyone. To get a perspective from the opposing clubhouse for this ALDS series, we checked in with our friends at Jays Journal at the FanSided site that covers the Toronto Blue Jays. Check them out for great coverage of the Blue Jays, and opinions on how this series will shake out.

Both these teams have many similarities, as they come in with the best second half records in baseball. So we wanted to check in on how the Blue Jays have done it this second half, and really pick their brains on their high-flying offense.

We sat down with Shaun Doyle, an editor at Jays Journal. Here’s his take on this huge series:

  1. What has been the biggest key to the Blue Jays second half surge?

Obviously, a lot has been written about this, but we can’t overstate the impact the Trade Deadline additions have had on this club. The Troy Tulowitzki trade blindsided everyone, but went a huge way to improving the defense as well as the lineup. The trade for Ben Revere also added a useful bat given that he led the National League in hits last season. He compliments this potent offense well. But, the organization has put a premium on run prevention with the moves.

This also includes the trade for David Price. This has been the most impactful move the club has made. He’s not only given this team a tried and true ace, but he’s given them the confidence necessary to compete and overtake the division. The late addition of Marcus Stroman also have given this team the same shot in the arm.

And, that is what is behind the surge: confidence and faith. Management has taken the necessary steps to show the players they are committed. It has rubbed off on players. It has rubbed off on fans. And all of this has combined to create a force in the AL East.

  1. The Rangers are very familiar with Josh Donaldson, can you talk a bit about what he has brought to the ball club?

In a word, he’s brought EVERYTHING! He’s brought defense that has been outstanding and an all out display of grit and determination. He’s also brought an MVP caliber bat that fits nicely into the potent lineup the Blue Jays run out in Rogers Centre.

Beyond, the obvious, though, he’s brought a winning attitude. That might sound cliche, but his all business, hard-nosed approach to baseball has caught on here and it has rubbed off on his teammates to the point that it has become the expected way of doing things. He brings a competitive fire, a dedicated preparation routine that make him a true leader; one that leads by example. He wants to be the best, he knows he is the best and he goes out everyday and does things to show you he’s right.

  1. Obviously the Blue Jays can smash, but how would you characterize their offensive approach? Aggressive, patient, mixture?

The Blue Jays will come to the plate with a plan. Whether it is to wait on a certain pitch in a certain location or to make a guy work, these hitters are showing an increased discipline at the plate. They’ll still strike out, mind you. But, they’ve shown that they are willing to work counts and do whatever is necessary to pass the baton to the next guy. In this lineup you can do that.

When they do get the pitch they want, they have the ability to make you pay for giving it to them. But, they have also shown the ability to adjust in the course of a game. Once through the order is enough for these guys to adjust to any pitcher. So, they’ll be patiently aggressive.

  1. The Blue Jays lead the MLB in home runs, but would you characterize this offense has one-dimensional? Are they capable of scoring in other ways than the long ball?

As stated before, this club is very willing to take what they’re given and go the other way with a single to drive in a run or to take a sac fly. They love their home runs, but they’ve really bought into scoring runs any way possible. This comes from a genuine belief that they are not out of any game. They believe that everyone in this lineup will pick them up; there is no pressure on any one or two guys.

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  1. What will Rangers fans see out of your pitching staff and bullpen?

This pitching staff has really turned it on in the second half of the season. Whether it is Price, Stroman or the “soft tossing” Marco Estrada, this rotation has managed to be very effective down the stretch. R.A. Dickey has been just as reliable as anyone. Expect to see a nice display of “pitching”. Even the hard throwing Price and Stroman have shown an ability to make adjustments and locate well. If you want to see a show, watch the movement on Stroman’s offerings. These guys can deal.

And, the benefit is that they don’t have to throw shutouts. The offense allows them a certain margin for error, so to speak. But, the bullpen has also been a bright spot down the stretch after being a huge question mark in the off-season and when the season began. Brett Cecil hasn’t allowed an earned run since the middle of June. Now that he’s in the set up role, he’s flourishing.

And, he’s bridging the gap to the youngest pitcher in baseball- Roberto Osuna. He’s 20 years old, but has locked down that closer’s role with the poise of a veteran. He’s not intimidated by any situation or any hitter. He’ll come in and hit 97 with ease.

  1. A pitcher and a hitter for Rangers fans to keep their eye on.

One hitter the Rangers might not want to forget about is Russell Martin. It might be easy to focus on all the other big bats, but Martin has quietly put together a great offensive season. He’s come up with some big hits late in the season and will bring a veteran presence to the lineup. He’ll put together good at bats to extend this lineup.

One pitcher the Rangers should beware of is Marco Estrada. He’s not one of the bigger names in this rotation, but he has come closer to no hitters more often than anyone on this squad. He doesn’t throw hard, but he uses his off speed stuff to cause a lot of headaches for hitters. Estrada was voted by the players as the club’s bets pitcher this year. If the Rangers are focused on Price and Stroman, Estrada very well could sneak in and surprise them.

  1. Tell me why the Blue Jays will win this series.

The Blue Jays will win this series because they have the best offense on the planet. There is never a game when they are really out of it. The “meat” of this order is 5-6-7 deep. Even the bottom of the order has been a big surprise with Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins having great years.

Add to that, the pitching staff and this series leans heavily toward Toronto. The starters don’t need to be perfect for this club to win. They just need to “give their team a chance to win”; to keep it close. And, that provides an edge, because they have the ability to be just that. IF the starters live up to their regular season performance (they don’t have to be amazing), this offense will carry the club.

  1. Tell me why the Blue Jays won’t win the series.

The Blue Jays won’t win this series because offense is streaky. Good pitching can always beat good hitting. And, a club who’s calling card is its offense just might be asking for trouble. If the Rangers can keep the Blue Jays off the board, and this turns into a pitching duel with starters matching pitch for pitch, the Rangers have a really good chance of taking the series.

Next: ALDS Preview: Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays

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