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Rangers vs. Rays: strengths

After 159 days at the top of the American West, the Texas Rangers lost the division title to the Houston Astros on the final day of the calendar. They could have benefited from a bye for the division series and thus avoided having to go through the two powers of the East of the American, Tampa Bay and Baltimore, a challenge which promises to be quite steep.

Despite everything, Texas can be proud of the season it had. He scored 22 more victories than last year and presented one of the best attacks on the circuit this year.

As for the Rays, we once again had a remarkable season, despite numerous injuries to the pitching staff.

This team impresses each year with its ability to adapt to the unexpected encountered during the season.

The first games of the series are scheduled for 3:08 p.m. A great opportunity to watch baseball while making dinner.

Starting pitchers

The performance of Texas’ starting pitchers will have a major impact on the outcome of this series. Due to the weakness of the bullpen (which will be discussed in the next paragraph), the Rangers’ starters will have to report late in their respective games, or things could get complicated quite quickly.

Jordan Montgomery will be tasked with starting the first game on Tuesday. He had a very good season, with an ERA of 3.20.

Bruce Bochy will most likely send Nathan Eovaldi for Wednesday’s match. Impeccable for the majority of the season, Eovaldi has had a little more difficulty since his return from injury. He doesn’t collect the same number of strikeouts and opposing batters seem to have less difficulty hitting the ball squarely against him.

The Rays, for their part, will be able to count on Tyler Glasnow on Tuesday. The right-handed colossus will not be an easy customer for Texas hitters. He collects his share of strikeouts. The Rangers lineup will need to be patient and not rush their curveball outside the zone, or it could be a long night.

Zach Eflin will be automatically for the second game. The Rays pitching coaches hit another good shot with him. He had quite a first season in Tampa, with 31 starts, compared to 13 last year. It remains to be seen how he will behave in a situation where the stakes are high.

Both teams are, in my opinion, on an equal level in terms of starting pitchers.

Relievers

As mentioned above, this is where things get complicated for the Rangers.

Their relievers have struggled throughout the season.

They went for Aroldis Chapman, who had a rollercoaster performance, as did the rest of his up-and-coming compatriots. That’s 33 sabotages for this bullpen, a high in the Majors.

The Rays will have to find a way to exploit this Rangers weakness to win this series.

Tampa lost the services of Jason Adams for the rest of the year, but he still benefits from a modest relief.

Hitters

The Rangers made the playoffs thanks to their stick. Their fielding is in the top-5 in every important category, like hits, RBIs, home runs, etc.

Composed in particular of: Marcus Semien, Corey Seager and Adolis García, that’s scary.

They will need to score a lot of points to give their next generation room to maneuver.

The Rays also have one of the best offenses in MLB, led by Randy Arozarena, Yandy Díaz and Isaac Paredes.

It’s an alignment that combines power and contact. There are no easy hitters to strike out on this team.

Advantage to the Rangers, despite everything.

Defensive

Both teams have good defenses.

Slight advantage to Rangers, who made the second lowest total errors this season, with 57.

Semien and Seager patrol an excellent infield. There’s also plenty of speed on the outfield side, with Taveras, García and Evan Carter.

Still, the Rays have nothing to envy them. This team doesn’t have many weaknesses, defensive included.

Managers

Some will rely on the analytical side of Kevin Cash. While others will prefer the experience of Bruce Bochy, with his two championship conquests.

Regardless, I don’t think one team is more favored than the other in this category.

Cash has amassed a lot of playoff experience over the past few years.

However, will he manage to defeat the Bochy club, who will undoubtedly want to take his team to great honors, in his first season since his return from retirement?

Imponderables

The Rays are 53-28 at Tropicana Field this season. They are very comfortable at home and that could play a big part, given that the Rangers are just under .500 on the road (40-41).

It will be the power that will be in the spotlight in this series, the Rangers have 233 home runs this year (3rd), compared to 230 for the Rays (6th).

This is a first playoff appearance since 2016 for the Rangers. Many players have never tasted October baseball.

The Rays will try to recover, after losing in the Wild Card last year, against the Cleveland Guardians.

The winner of this duel will face the Orioles in Baltimore.

This will be a very interesting series to follow for those who like a good attack.

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