Pitcher James Shields #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Texas Rangers during Game 2 of the ALDS.
Opponent: Tampa Bay Rays (85-68, as of Sept. 20)
Likelihood of facing Rangers (on scale of 1-10): 3, the Red Sox are fading fast, but Tampa Bay has to deal with the Yankees, so wins won't be easy to come by. The Rays are outplaying the Red Sox right now by leaps and bounds, but catching them will be tough.
What needs to happen: In order for the Rangers to have a rematch with the Rays in the ALDS, the Rays would have to catch and pass the Red Sox, and the Rangers would have to finish one game up on the Detroit Tigers for the second-best record in the American League. Currently, both teams are 89-65 but the Tigers have the head-to-head tiebreaker, winning 6 of the 9 matchups with Texas this year.
Texas pitching against Tampa Bay: C.J. Wilson (2-0, 2.08 ERA), Colby Lewis (1-0, 0.00 ERA), Derek Holland (1-0, 5.84), Matt Harrison (0-0, 0.00 *2 innings of relief), Alexi Ogando (0-1, 7.36 ERA)
Tampa Bay pitching against Texas: James Shields (2-0, 0.53 ERA), David Price (0-1, 3.21 ERA), Jeff Niemann (0-2, 11.17 ERA), Wade Davis (0-1, 23.63 ERA), Jeremy Hellickson (0-1, 3.00 ERA)
Who wins: Texas has the better team, and in a 7-game series would win in five or six games because of the disparity between the offenses. But in a 5-gamer, which the ALDS is, Tampa Bay's pitching is scary. James Shields has owned the Rangers this season, and they'd have to contend with him twice if it went 5 games. But I don't think it'd get there.
Texas wins in 4 and advances to the ALCS.