MLB.com experts offer their ALCS prediction

MLB.com experts offer their ALCS prediction

The American League Championship Series is set to begin tonight at 8 ET, with Game 1 between the Blue Jays and Indians airing on TBS in the U.S., Sportsnet and RDS in Canada. Both teams are hoping to end extensive World Series droughts, with the Blue Jays last appearing (and winning) the World Series in 1993, while the Indians -- who hold home-field advantage -- haven't made the World Series since '97 and last won in '48.

As we await first pitch, a collection of MLB.com analysts, columnists and reporters shared their thoughts on who will come out on top.

Mike Bauman: Toronto in 7
This is where injuries in the rotation catch up to the Indians. The Blue Jays have greater rotation depth and their lineup will come through in a way the Red Sox's lineup could not.

Game Date Matchup TV/Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 14 CLE 2, TOR 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 15 CLE 2, TOR 1 video
Gm 3 Oct. 17 CLE 4, TOR 2 video
Gm 4 Oct. 18 TOR 5, CLE 1 video
Gm 5 Oct. 19 CLE 3, TOR 0 video

Hal Bodley: Toronto in 7
The Blue Jays picked up enormous momentum by winning the AL Wild Card Game and then surviving three intense AL Division Series games against the Rangers, who had the AL's best regular-season record. Toronto, still smarting from losing in the ALCS last year, will be powered by its awesome offense.

Anthony Castrovince: Cleveland in 6
Yes, the Indians are thin in the rotation. But the Blue Jays are thin in the bullpen, and that issue catches up to them in this round, especially as the patient Tribe lineup works up the starters' pitch counts.

Jim Duquette: Toronto in 6
The Blue Jays' rotation depth matches up better over a longer series and their offense has finally awakened in October.

Alyson Footer: Cleveland in 6
As short-handed as the Indians are rotation-wise, playoff games often come down to bullpens and defense, and I like the Indians better in both areas. The Blue Jays raked their way through the AL Division Series and my gut tells me the few days they've had off may cool them down. Toronto's 'pen has had some injury blows of late, so that may make the difference.

Paul Hagen: Toronto in 6
Injuries have left the Indians' rotation thin. They managed to cover that up with a sweep in the ALDS, but it will be more difficult to overcome in a longer series. Plus the Blue Jays, with a reputation for being a team that simply outslugs its opponents, actually win with strong pitching and defense, too.

Gibbons on facing Indians

Jack Morris: Toronto
I think the Blue Jays have a slight advantage offensively, I think they have a slight advantage with starting pitching -- even though Corey Kluber is a former AL Cy Young Award winner at the top of his game right now -- but I think the bullpen goes to Cleveland. So two out of three, I'm gonna have to go with Toronto.

Mike Petriello: Cleveland in 7
There's no right or wrong answer here, because they are two very evenly matched teams. But ultimately Cleveland's advantage in the bullpen (in no small part due to manager Terry Francona's willingness to be inventive in using his relievers) will overcome Toronto's strength in the rotation. It won't matter as much if the Blue Jays are better suited to have a starter going deeper into the game if Francona can just drop The Andrew Miller Experience in the biggest spots, knowing Cody Allen still looms for the ninth.

Kluber on facing the Blue Jays

Tracy Ringolsby: Toronto in 5
The Blue Jays have an explosive offense that can take advantage of an Indians rotation depleted by injuries to Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco and take control of game before bullpens come into play. An extended break between the ALDS and the ALCS provided much-needed rest for Toronto closer Roberto Osuna.

Phil Rogers: Toronto in 6
The Blue Jays have more big bats, and that will make the difference. I also give a big vote for the talent and experience of Russell Martin, who is due to break out of his 1-for-16 slump in a big way.