With first pitch set for 8:00 PM ET tonight at Progressive Field, we know this much: The 2016 American League Pennant will be claimed by either Terry Francona’s Cleveland Indians or John Gibbons’ Toronto Blue Jays, with the winner advancing to their first World Series in nearly two decades or more.
The Toronto Blue Jays are looking to return to the World Series for the first time since the days of Joe Carter and Pat Hentgen in 1993, while the Cleveland Indians are looking for their first pennant since 1997 when they were led by a then 25-year-old Manny Ramirez.
Yes, it’s been that long!
It will be a matchup of perhaps the most potent offense in all of baseball, as the Blue Jays solemnly displayed in the ALDS, versus one of the best postseason bullpens ever assembled, with Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Dan Otero and the newly acquired Andrew Miller showing shades of the 2014 and 2015 Kansas City Royals.
But not to be overlooked is the impressive Indians starting rotation, which even without Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar managed to keep arguably the most balanced lineup in all of baseball in check when they swept the American League favorite Boston Red Sox.
Cleveland has the pitching depth to hurl them into the World Series, but Toronto’s offense led by Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki can change the momentum of any game, let alone a series with just one swing.
There will be drama, there will be excitement, and each and every pitch will be a determining factor as to who advances to the 2016 World Series.
So without further ado, here are my picks and predictions for the 2016 American League Championship Series!
Pick: The Tribe in seven
ALCS MVP: Andrew Miller
More from Call to the Pen
- Philadelphia Phillies, ready for a stretch run, bomb St. Louis Cardinals
- Philadelphia Phillies: The 4 players on the franchise’s Mount Rushmore
- Boston Red Sox fans should be upset over Mookie Betts’ comment
- Analyzing the Boston Red Sox trade for Dave Henderson and Spike Owen
- 2023 MLB postseason likely to have a strange look without Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals
Interestingly enough, the Cleveland Indians won the season series 4-3, and I predict the exact same will happen in the ALCS.
As potent as the Blue Jays offense looked against Texas in the ALDS, the key factor here is pitching. The Blue Jays beat up on an aging Cole Hamels, a post-Tommy John surgery Yu Darvish and an average pitcher at best in Colby Lewis.
While the Indians rotation isn’t as deep as their opposition’s, Cory Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin are poised to give the Blue Jays much tougher at-bats than Texas did, and the best part is that with the Indians bullpen locked, loaded and well-rested, each Indians starter only needs to hurl five-to-six strong innings each night before handing the ball over to the Tribe’s biggest arms.
Terry Francona will likely ride his bullpen to a World Series berth, and they won’t disappoint, hence my 2016 ALCS MVP Prediction – the tall southpaw Andrew Miller.
Francona and the Indians already ended one era when they sent Big Papi and the Boston Red Sox packing. It’s time for them to lay the Joey Bats and E5 era to rest, too.
What do you think folks? Cleveland in seven? Let us know in the comments below!