ALCS Preview: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Kansas City Royals

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Kansas City Royals
Game 1: Friday, 8:00 pm ET in Toronto, FOX
Game 2: Saturday, 4:00 pm ET in Toronto, FS1
Game 3: Monday, 8:00 pm ET in Kansas City, FS1
Game 4: Tuesday, 3:30 pm ET in Kansas City, FS1
Game 5: Wednesday, 3:30 pm ET in Kansas City, FS1 (if nec)
Game 6: October 23, 7:30 pm ET in Toronto, FS1 (if nec)
Game 7: October 24, 8:00 pm ET in Toronto, FS1 (if nec)

While this year’s American League Championship Series matchup wasn’t necessarily predicted by many at the start of the year, it does put the two best teams in the American League up against each other.  Toronto is in the ALCS for the first time since 1993, the year when they last won the World Series, while Kansas City won the ALCS last year to advance to the World Series.

Starting pitching:
The Royals have the worst rotation ERA among the entire postseason field, much less the four teams left, at 4.34, while the Blue Jays have two aces:  Marcus Stroman (4-0, 1.67 ERA) and David Price (9-1, 2.30 ERA)
Advantage: Blue Jays

Bullpen:
The Royals boast a 2.72 ERA, the best in the American League, and are led by Wade Davis (17 saves, 0.94 ERA).  While Toronto’s unit is solid, led by young guns Roberto Osuna (20 saves, 2.58 ERA) and Aaron Sanchez (3.22 ERA), there’s really no comparison.
Advantage: Royals

Lineup:
The Royals have a knack for clutch hitting, dating back to last year’s postseason, and continuing through their ALDS win over Houston.  But the Blue Jays rank first in the AL in runs (891) and home runs (232), and second in batting average (.269).
Advantage: Blue Jays

Atmosphere:
The Royals do have home field advantage, and had an excellent home crowd in the ALDS, but nothing compares to the passion the Toronto fan base showed (both positive and negative) in the Blue Jays series against Texas.
Advantage: Blue Jays

Experience:
The Royals won the ALCS last year, sweeping the Baltimore Orioles, on their way to a seven-game World Series loss, and came back from a 2-1 series deficit to defeat the Astros.  While the Blue Jays showed excellent poise in coming from 2-0 down to beat the Rangers, Kansas City has been here before.
Advantage: Blue Jays

Managers:
Ned Yost has done an excellent job with the Royals, as they have improved every year under his helm, culminating with an AL pennant last year and the best record in the AL in this year’s regular season.  John Gibbons is an AL Manager of the Year contender after taking the Blue Jays to their first playoff appearance since 1993, even after starting 23-30 and 50-51.
Advantage: even

This series is what a League Championship Series should be: two excellent teams, strong in most or all facets of the game, fighting for the right to play in the World Series.  Both teams are wholly deserving of a shot at a title, but only one can advance, and Toronto is ever-so-slightly better in a very level, balanced matchup.

The Blue Jays will win the series, four games to three.

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