Rays vs. Rangers: ALDS Preview of Starting Pitching Matchups

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Rays vs. Rangers: ALDS Preview of Starting Pitching Matchups
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The 2011 American League Division Series clash between the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays represents a thrilling rematch from last year's opening round of the MLB playoffs.

Facing off for a second consecutive ALDS, both clubs arrive well armed with talented pitching staffs, each owing much of their success to the dominance of their starting rotations.

Texas, repeating as AL West champs after not making the playoffs since 1999, finished third in the AL with a 3.65 starting pitchers' ERA, despite seeing Cliff Lee walk as a free agent, trading Tommy Hunter early in the year and welcoming Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando into their rotation full-time.

All three newcomers pitched fantastically for portions of the season, alternating so that at least one of them was hot at any particular time throughout the season. Led by incumbent lefty, C.J. Wilson, the Texas staff produced a fantastic season, even in the harsh conditions of their offense-friendly home stadium in Arlington.

Tampa Bay, who are entering the postseason on a tremendous high after their improbable run for the wild-card berth, owned the best starting ERA in the entire AL, despite residing in the most offense-laden division in all of baseball.

With a 3.53 rotation ERA and an AL-leading 1.19 starter's WHIP, Tampa Bay's staff poses a threat to anyone they face, with multiple arms capable of shutting down an opposing offense on any given day.

As the ALDS is set to begin today, let's take a look at each team's probable starting rotation throughout the first four games. Both teams have set their starters for Games 1 and 2, but concrete announcements have yet to emerge beyond that. We are speculating slightly, but given the information available, the guesses for Game 3 and 4 should be reasonably accurate.

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