The Texas Rangers shocked the baseball world by sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Wild Card Series. The Rangers got superb pitching performances from Jordan Montgomery, Nathan Eovaldi and the bullpen.
Evan Carter and Corey Seager provided some much-needed offense against the Rays to help them advance to the American League Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles finished the regular season with 101 wins for the first time since 1979.
The Rangers will have a shot in this series if they can get Jon Gray or Max Scherzer back from injury. However if the Rangers get neither of those pitchers back, it could be a very quick series. The Orioles have one of the best young bats in the league with Adley Rutschman who finished with a .277 batting average this season. Gunnar Henderson and Cedric Mullins are other threats on the Orioles roster that the Rangers' pitching staff will have to deal with.
The Rangers are going to have to play perfect baseball if they want to make it to the Championship Series. I know the Rangers had a good season this year but with the injury to Jacob DeGrom and the uncertain availability of Gray and Scherzer, the Orioles look like they will have the upper hand in this series.
Prediction: Baltimore Orioles in 4
Rest is the momentum killer, especially when it comes to postseason baseball. I’m sure there are a few exceptions, but I’ll never forget the red-hot Rockies of 2007. After a 13-inning Wild Card win against the San Diego Padres, Rocktober would go on to sweep the Phillies and Diamondbacks. Great news! Almost. The Rockies had to wait nine days before playing their World Series opponent, the Red Sox, who were now the ones on fire. They swept Colorado in four.
The Orioles don’t have to wait nine days before playing the Rangers. They will be less than a week removed from their last plate appearances. Still, that amount of downtime could prove detrimental, especially for such a young team. The Orioles youth makes them a great team, but postseason experience is paramount. Lucky for the Rangers, we have quite a bit of that.
Bruce Bochy’s three World Series wins inspire confidence. Corey Seager’s World Series MVP Trophy ain’t bad either. Nathan Eovaldi is back to pitching like his 2018 self, and Jordan Montgomery is fired up and dealing like someone who’s been here before. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that Max Scherzer could maybe return for the ALDS, more than making his Mad moniker matter.
It won’t be easy. The Rangers need more than a few guys with familiar feelings. We need our bats to stay as hot as they were against Tampa Bay. Camden Yards won’t be empty like the Trop. But, with an abundance of rest and less postseason experience, I believe the Orioles will fall in the Texas Rangers' second-ever playoff game in Globe Life Field, which will be full of fans clamoring for a return to the ALCS.
Prediction: Texas Rangers win 3-1
The Baltimore Orioles thrive off of Adley Rutschman. In 2022 in all games he didn't play in, they went 20-29. In games he at least played in, they went 63-50 and won 60 of those he started.
Fast forward to 2023. The Orioles went 101-61 and in game Adley played, they went 95-59. You do the math. The Orioles are a better team since he has been called up.
If the Texas Rangers want to win the ALDS against the O's, they must eliminate or slow down his at-bats. The Orioles in game one and two have announced their starters and Kyle Bradish (12-7 2.83 ERA) sports a 1.35 ERA against Texas and pitched a 2.23 home ERA.
The Orioles game two starter, Grayson Rodriguez (7-4 4.35 ERA) boasts a 10.80 ERA against the Rangers in two starts. My prediction is Rangers in four. If the Rangers can get another solid performance from the pitching, this series can be a relief for the lineup to produce as they did against Tampa Bay in the ALWCS. Evan Carter's patience at the plate and his defense in the outfield will be a major key for Texas. Series MVP: Corey Seager. Seems like the go-to pick for his playoff experience, but I think he sets the tone for the lineup.