For the Texas Rangers, a return to the postseason has been a long time coming. The Tampa Bay Rays…not so much. However, it is fair to say that both teams have seen resurgences in the last couple years and that’s the reason they are facing each other this year in the ALDS. Tampa comes into the postseason as the AL East leader after the Yankees fell to the Boston Red Sox in the last weekend of the season. The Rangers come in as the AL West winners; however, it’s worthy to note that this division is significantly weaker than the AL East. The Tampa Bays were pretty consistent at home and on the road this year, while the Texas Rangers thrived at home and experienced a lot of trouble on the road going 39-42 during the 2010 season. Tampa Bay holding home field advantage could be their one and only advantage in this series.
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Pitching will be the big story in this series. The argument could be made that the pitching staff of the Rangers is just as good, if not better, than that of the Rays. The Rangers, after a deal with the Yankees fell through, were able to pick up Cliff Lee mid-season, which is a move that could prove to be a difference maker. Although he has never won a World Series, Cliff Lee has been to the final dance before and was the only reason that the Phillies didn’t get swept last year against the Yankees (the series was 4-2 and Lee pitched in both Phillies wins). In my opinion, Lee is a much better and more experienced pitcher than the Rays’ ace Jamie Shields. The Rangers also have the edge when it comes to closers. Their closer, Feliz, hasn’t blown a save since August 11th and carries a VERY impressive .88 WHIP into this year’s playoffs. If Tampa’s pitching staff is even just average, this could be a short series.
One final thing to note in this series is that down the stretch the Tampa Bay Rays struggled. They’ve only managed a 15 and 15 record since the 1st of September. To further drive home how bad the Rays have struggled, in their last 10 games they only have a 5 and 5 record. Before you say to yourself, well that’s a decent record those 10 games were against Baltimore, Seattle and Kansas City, 3 of the MLB’s worst teams, if not the worst.
Texas Rangers +130
Tampa Bay Rays -150
Texas Rangers vs Tampa Bay Devil Rays Series Prediction
If this series was shaping up last year I would take the Rays in a second to beat the Rangers. However, with the acquisition of Cliff Lee the Rangers and the emergence of their close Feliz, they are a team that could go very deep into this year’s playoffs. If the Rays continue to struggle like they did in September this could be a long series for Rays fans. I’m taking the Rangers in 4.
Series Prediction: Texas Rangers @ +130
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Written by: Allan Etmanski