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ALCS Preview: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Kansas CIty Royals

Let's go Blue Jays!

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals could have been eliminated from the playoffs as early as October 12, but both forced a Game 5 in their ALDS (Toronto first had to force a Game 4) with big wins over the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros, respectively. Those wins made one of the wildest days of the postseason possible, on Wednesday night when the Rangers had the worst half-inning in recent memory and Joey Bautista flipped a bat into orbit., and then Johnny Cueto came up big.

It is hard to imagine that the Royals will let a bat flip go by without retaliating if one occurs sometime in the next seven games. Back in early August, Josh Donaldson did something to offend Royals players. Edinson Volquez (who is starting Game 1 of the ALCS) hit Donaldson the next day, the Blue Jays hit a Royals hitter later in the same game, the Royals threw near Donaldson’s head, and the two teams brawled. At least "brawled" in the baseball sense, meaning both teams leisurely jogged onto the field and delayed the game while they yelled angry things at each other.

Honestly, though, who knows? Maybe the Royals learned from the past and will calm down in the playoffs. I mean, probably not, but it is possible.

Toronto won the season series, 4-3, but that does not really matter. What does matter will be the Blue Jays ability to stop the Royals bats. The Blue Jays offense scored seven combined runs in the first games against the Rangers in the ALDS, but still lost both games after allowing five runs in Game 1, and six games in Game 2. Toronto can win a shootout with anyone this side of the Big Red Machine, but if they fall behind and need to sweep the last few games to advance, they will have a much harder time doing it than they did against the Rangers.

One oddity of this series (and the remaining teams in general) is the fact that the Royals are the "veteran" playoff team. The Blue Jays, Royals, New York Mets, and Chicago Cubs have a combined World Series drought of 188 games, as noted by Keith Law. That number is second to only the 2003 playoffs, where the Cubs and Boston Red Sox heavily skewed the numbers with their massive droughts. The Royals having one extra year of making it to the World Series does not necessarily make them a better team by any stretch, but it is interesting to note.

Marco Estrada is expected to get the start in Game 1 for the Jays, which would leave David Price on full rest for tomorrow. Price’s last action was a three-inning relief appearance against the Rangers on October 12.

Matchups and start times

  • Game 1: Estrada (TOR) @ Volquez (KCR), October 16, 8:07 ET on FOX
  • Game 2: TBD (TOR) @ TBD (KCR), October 17, 4:07 ET on Fox Sports 1
  • Game 3: TBD (KCR) @ TBD (TOR), October 19, 8:07 ET on Fox Sports 1
  • Game 4: TBD (KCR) @ TBD (KCR), October 20, TBD on TBD
  • Game 5: TBD (KCR) @ TBD (TOR), October  21, TBD on TBD*
  • Game 6: TBD (TOR) @ TBD (KCR), October 23, TBD on TBD*
  • Game 7: TBD (TOR) @ TBD (KCR), October 24, TBD on TBD*

*If needed

Indians notes

  • Most former Indians players were eliminated in the ALDS.
  • Blue Jays reliever Mark Lowe threw 7.0 innings of relief for the Indians last year.