As part of our MLB Postseason coverage, Steve Slowinski from SB Nation's Tampa Bay Rays blog, DRaysBay, examines why the Rays, the A.L. East champions, will beat the Rangers in the ALDS. And then details why they'll lose.
Why they will win:
Solid pitching, aggressive offense and a dominant bullpen. The Rays don't have as strong a top of the rotation as Texas does, but they have a quartet (David Price, James Shields, Matt Garza and Wade Davis) that will keep them competitive, no matter the opposition. If we get strong pitching performances, I anticipate that our offense will be able to put enough pressure on the Rangers' starters -- by drawing walks, stealing bases, forcing plays -- to allow us to win. Our bullpen is one of our strongest points, so as long as the game is tied or close going into the later innings, I like our chances.
Why they will lose:
Cliff Lee, C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis. The more I look at it, I'm rather frightened by the Rangers' top three arms. Cliff Lee everyone knows about and he's about as impossible to beat as they come, but Wilson and Lewis have both been well above-average starters this season. Lewis strikes out a ton of batters and doesn't walk many -- a nightmare for the strikeout-prone Rays -- while Wilson thrives by inducing a ton of groundballs (49% groundball rate this season). Joe Maddon will play his match-ups and I wouldn't be surprised if the Rays got to at least one of these pitchers, but they're an easy trio to fall behind to. And I do not want to go into Game 5 needing to beat Cliff Lee.