The Toronto Blue Jays made the playoffs on the last day of the regular season after an inconsistent month of September, but they are playing in the American League Championship Series after sweeping the favored Texas Rangers in the division series.

The Cleveland Indians limped into the playoffs with an injured pitching staff after winning the AL Central and then swept the hard-hitting Boston Red Sox. 

Now these two teams will battle in a best-of-seven series to represent the American League in the World Series. The Indians will have the advantage of playing the decisive game at Progressive Field if the series goes seven games.

The Blue Jays appear to have the more powerful offense. They feature Edwin Encarnacion (42 HR, 127 RBI), Josh Donaldson (37 HR, 99 RBI), Troy Tulowitzki (24  HR, 79 RBI) and Jose Bautista (22 HR, 69 RBI in 116 games), and their presence allows Toronto to string long hits and runs together.

The Indians have a pair of big-time sluggers in Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana, who both hammered 34 homers this season.

It’s not going to be easy for the Cleveland pitching staff to keep those big bats in check, but there is no panic among Terry Francona‘s hurlers. Corey Kluber is capable of shutting down the best lineups, and the numbers prove his excellence.

Kluber went 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA and a 1.056 WHIP. Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin started and pitched well in the division series, but the strength of the pitching staff is in the bullpen. Andrew Miller is Cleveland’s dominant reliever, and Francona uses him in a creative manner. Miller can pitch at any point from the fifth inning on and throw 40 pitches effectively.

Miller was remarkable after being acquired from the Yankees. In 29 innings with the Indians, he had a 1.55 ERA, gave up 14 hits and had an otherworldly 0.552 WHIP.

Since closer Cody Allen is so effective (32 saves, 1.000 WHIP), Francona does not have to employ Miller in the ninth inning. That may be the key to Cleveland’s success in this series or beyond if the Indians make it to the World Series.

The Blue Jays have excellent starting pitching as well. Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ are capable of going deep into games while giving up a minimal number of runs.

The Blue Jays are slight favorites to defeat the Indians in the ALCS. According to Odds Shark, the Blue Jays range from minus-115 to minus-150 to win the series, while the Indians range from even to plus-142.



The Blue Jays are the more explosive team and probably have more talent from top to bottom. However, the Indians are a competitive bunch that welcomes any challenge. They will not be cowed by facing the Toronto sluggers, just as they were not fearful about facing David Ortiz and the Red Sox in the first round.

The Indians have big edges in the bullpen and on the bench. Francona should be able to manage circles around spit-and-vinegar John Gibbons. Francona is the better psychologist and strategist, and that should pay off when the games are late and close.

Look for the Indians to take the series in six games and represent the American League in the World Series.

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