Tha Sports Junkies 101

Cleveland, Toronto: ALCS Game 1

ALCS Keith J. Semmelink via


ALCS Game 1

After completing sweeps in their respective division series, the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays will meet in the ALCS. With injuries to Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, many people thought Boston’s high powered offense would destroy the Indians weak rotation. Quite the opposite happened as Cleveland starters gave up only five earned runs in 16.2 combined innings. The Blue Jays rode powerful offense to a sweep of the Texas Rangers in their division series. Toronto outscored Texas 22-10 and had a team batting average of .266. This series will hinge on whether or not the Indians can control the Blue Jays offense. With that in mind, lets break down the Game 1 matchup ahead of Friday’s contest.


The Blue Jays will start Marco Estrada in Game 1 against the Indians. Estrada also started Game 1 against the Rangers and only allowed one run over 8.1 innings in the Jays 10-1 win. The Blue Jays right-hander took a shutout into the 9th inning but allowed a triple and RBI groundout before being removed from the game.

What could be more important than the starting pitching in this game and series is the play of the bullpen. The Blue Jays bullpen has thrown 12 shutout innings in the playoffs this season. In addition to allowing no runs, the Toronto bullpen has only given up three total hits this postseason. Combine that with the fact that their bullpen has struck out 11 batters over the same 12 innings and it’s easy to figure out how the Blue Jays swept the Rangers.

Cleveland will counter with Corey Kluber in Game 1 of the ALCS. Kluber tossed 7 scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALDS. He also struck out seven and only allowed three hits in route to the Indians 6-0 win. It was a reassuring sign to see Kluber pitch well as he missed time during the regular season with a leg injury.

The bullpen work of the Indians in the ALDS was headlined by lefty Andrew Miller. He threw four innings over the course of two games and only allowed two hits while striking out seven Boston hitters. The rest of the Indians bullpen went a combined 6.1 innings and allowed only two earned runs.

Advantage – Both starting pitchers have had good starts thus far in the postseason. Game 1 should be a pitchers duel which could make this game a battle of the bullpens late in the contest. Right now, it looks like the Blue Jays have the best bullpen. However, if Kluber can get through eight innings and hand the ball to Andrew Miller, it will be a long night for Toronto hitters.

These two teams matchup so well in the pitching department that it is hard to determine which team has the advantage. I will give the advantage to the Indians just because Miller can provide multiple shutdown innings out of the bullpen whenever needed. Expect to see a very low scoring game similar to Game 1 of the NLDS between the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants.


Toronto had one of the most powerful offenses during the regular season and that spilled into the playoffs. The Blue Jays have four batters (Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, Ezequiel Carrera and Troy Tulowitzki) who are hitting over .350 this postseason. As a team, they have hit ten home runs in four games while plating 27 runs. Encarnacion has three of those ten home runs to go along with his .938 slugging percentage which leads the Blue Jays this postseason. Donaldson does not have a home run this postseason but five of his nine hits have been doubles which accounts for the 14 total bases that he has amassed during the playoffs.

Most of these amazing offensive numbers have came without the help of Jose Bautista. Bautista has hit two home runs during the playoffs but is only hitting at a .200 clip thus far. He has five strikeouts in 15 at-bats and just three total hits.

This offense is scary enough but if Bautista gets heated up, it could be all over for the Indians.

Cleveland’s offense actually has a higher team batting average during the playoffs than the Blue Jays. It is .271 compared to Toronto’s .260 mark. It is important to note that Toronto has played four games this postseason compared to just three by the Indians. That being said, Cleveland has hit five home runs this postseason by five different players. One of those players is Jason Kipnis who is batting at a .364 clip with three RBI’s and four strikeouts in 11 at-bats. Jose Ramirez has also got off to a nice start this postseason. He is 5-10 with one double and two walks. The Indians have not torn up the ball like the Blue Jays and that is evident by the -34 total base differential that the Indians have.

It is important for the Indians pitching staff to keep the Blue Jays off the board for Cleveland to have a shot at winning the series. Mike Napoli will need to step up this series for the Indians. So far this postseason he his hitting .167 with four strikeouts in 12 at-bats.

Advantage – The offensive advantage for this series is with the Blue Jays. They have two many weapons that can get hot at any point. The Indians will need to use the same pitching that they used in the ALDS to get them through the ALCS. Cleveland has a pretty good offense as well but they need some of their best players to start hitting if they hope to compete offensively with the Blue Jays.

Winner – Game 1 will be all about the pitching matchup. Starting pitching wise, it should be pretty equal with Estrada and Kluber both pitching well so far this postseason. The Blue Jays have the hottest offense right now and should be able to score some runs off of Kluber. Estrada has the ability to dominate games and should dominate on Friday. Expect to see the Blue Jays win this game but not in a blowout fashion. The Indians pitching can keep this game close, but ultimately Toronto should come out victorious.

Coverage of Game 1 of the ALCS will begin on Friday, October 14th at 8:00pm eastern on TBS.