Let’s say for now that a playoff spot is a given, a much less certainty is who the Sox would be squaring off when the playoffs do actually begin.
Of course, a lot of that has to do with what happens in the final weeks of the regular season. That said, when looking at potential first-round matchups, which series would the Red Sox most like to see?
Barring complete meltdowns and/or miracles, Boston would be paired with one of three teams — Detroit, Texas or Los Angeles.
Let’s start with the Tigers. Of course, any conversation about Jim Leyland‘s bunch has to start with Tigers ace Justin Verlander. The flame-throwing right-hander is running away with the Cy Young and will even garner MVP consideration. He’s been simply dominant. Taking into account that if the Sox do face the Tigers, it will likely happen on the road to begin with. That means the Sox would have to face Verlander twice in a five-game series, with two of those games likely coming at spacious Comerica Park in Detroit where Verlander would be able to get away with a lot more than he would at Fenway Park.
Then, we could head out west. The Rangers have seemed like the obvious choice out of the AL West, as they’ve been in control of the division for some time. Just two weeks ago, this seemed liked an incredibly daunting task. That was until Boston went into Arlington and steamrolled the Rangers, taking three out of four. However, the Rangers came to the East Coast last weekend and took care of business at Fenway as well, taking two of three from Boston. Like the Tigers, the Rangers have a shut-down ace in C.J. Wilson who has given the Sox fits for his entire career. Seeing him twice wouldn’t be fun and neither would dealing with that stacked lineup, but at least the Sox have some added confidence after finally breaking through deep in the heart of Texas.
Finally, you have the charging Angels. All of a sudden, the Rangers don’t see like such a sure thing in the West, and there’s always the chance Anaheim can make that late charge and get in. If that were to happen, you’re once again looking at dealing with a dominant ace, this time in Jered Weaver. On paper, however, the Angels seem like the best matchup, but if the Sox continue to limp toward the finish line while the Angels surge, matchups on paper may be a little less consequential.
It’s tough to say there are any good matchups for a team come playoff time, and this is no different. However, if and when the Sox do get in, who would you want to see waiting for them?
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