Both Texas and Cleveland went all in at the deadline, and has many people hoping for a postseason clash between the two clubs
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There were a number of clubs who made brilliant moves at yesterday's non-waiver trade deadline, but without a shadow of a doubt the pressure in the AL is now resting fully on the shoulders of the Cleveland Indians and the Texas Rangers. Not only have people put World Series pressure on these two clubs, but people also hope that we're shaping up for one of the best ALCS series of all time. Between the Rangers impeccable Texas lineup and the outstanding pitching staff of Cleveland, people's guesses might not be too far off.
When the Texas Rangers acquired Carlos Beltran, not only did they get one of the best hitters of our generation, but they got possibly the greatest postseason hitter of all time. Beltran, 39, is in the middle of his 12th 20+ HR season, and might reach 100 RBI for the first time since 2008. Despite being such a historically great postseason player, Beltran has yet to win the World Series, and could be in the final season of his career. Not only will Texas have a great player, but you can bet he will have one of the biggest chips on his shoulder out of anybody in the push for a World Series ring.
One of the big stories in a series between the Rangers and Indians will be Jonathan Lucroy's reception in Cleveland, which is likely to be a very long loud chorus of "boos". Lucroy nixed a huge trade to Cleveland, a trade that had the city extremely excited, and a day later was shipped off to Texas. Not only will Lucroy make a big impact with Texas' push to October, but him playing in Cleveland might be one of the biggest postseason stories.
While the Indians rotation is incredibly dominant and well built, the lack of postseason experience may rear it's ugly head
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Heading into this season, the Indians and the baseball world all knew that Cleveland's strength would come from it's starting pitching; as we begin August, the Indians offense has been a very pleasant surprise factor for the first place tribe, but they still rely heavily on the starting rotation. One big concern with some, myself included, is the huge lack of postseason experience not only up and down the whole roster, but especially in the starting rotation. The only pitcher in Cleveland's rotation with any postseason experience whatsoever is Danny Salazar, who went 4 innings in a 2013 Wild Card loss. While the composure of Kluber and the development of Carrasco and Salazar might make one think postseason experience is no big deal, it has been in the past with multiple young players. The bright side is that they have veteran pitcher in the bullpen like Dan Otero, Tommy Hunter, and Andrew Miller, all of which have postseason experience and could serve as leaders for the young staff in October. As we all know, when a pitching staff is at the top of their game in October, you can almost guarantee they will take it to the house. Should Cleveland's staff get hot, as we know they can, the rest of the league better watch out.
On the opposite side, Texas has one of the most established postseason pitchers in the game today with lefty Cole Hamels. Hamels has not only utterly dominated in the postseason, but he has a World Series ring, a World Series MVP, and an NLCS MVP to show for it. While Texas does not have as strong of a rotation as Cleveland, when healthy they are very good and chock full of Postseason playing time. The Texas bullpen is also very good, so Cleveland would have pressure to strike against the starting pitchers fast in this hypothetical series.
"Frankie" Lindor may see October baseball for the first time in his young career, and has been very public about his desire for a World Series ring
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Last February, Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor was coming off of an amazing rookie season, yet still the biggest thing on his mind was winning the Fall Classic.“I want to see myself as a winner,” Lindor said. “I want to play the last game of the playoffs and talk to [the media] and say, ‘we won.’ I always want to win. When I come home and tell my dad, ‘Dad, I won a World Series,’ to me that’s it. That’s it. That is it. He worked so hard for me to be where I am right now and I am working so hard to be in the World Series. Winning. Hoping my team wins. Being successful. Helping my team win and us celebrating.”
Again, in July of 2016, when Lindor was asked about his low vote tally for the MLB All-star game, he once again made his ultimate goals public - "That's fine. Whatever happens, happens, I don't play for any awards. I play for October baseball. That's what it's all about. The biggest accomplishment anyone could have is win the World Series. You can see this Kansas City team. They've got Gold Glovers, All-Stars and Silver Sluggers. And you can ask them, 'What was the best part of your career so far?' They will say winning the World Series. That's what I want."
Cleveland currently sits atop the AL Central, and has the best record in the American League, so Lindor may very well get his wish.
Mike Napoli saw postseason success with Texas in 2011, and this series would give him the chance to stick it to his old club
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
While October baseball is often full of crazy unpredictable twists and turns, a hypothetical Texas and Cleveland ALCS is a series many will dream about until the end of the season. After all, who better to go head-to-head in a battle for the World Series spot than the AL's biggest deadline winners?