ALDS: Texas Rangers vs. Baltimore Orioles
As the final AL East team standing, the Orioles are looking to carry on rolling after their first 100-win season since 1980, and hope that their young core that includes Adley Rutschman and presumptive Rookie of the Year winner Gunnar Henderson can bring a title back to Baltimore. They'll be facing off against the Texas Rangers, a team that feels very much in a win-now mode, that almost completely missed the playoffs by getting ice cold at the wrong time of the season, but patched things up and absolutely rocked the Tampa Bay Rays in their Wild Card series (the Rays are the baseball equivalent of the Buffalo Bills, at this point).
The Rangers actually hold the advantage in the former Red Sox player battle, most notably having postseason hero Nathan Eovaldi holding down a spot in their rotation. Eovaldi put up another great appearance in the closeout game 2 against the Rays yesterday, which continued to rub salt in the wound of Red Sox fans who watched Eovaldi walk for free this offseason. On top of Eovaldi, old friend Martin Perez is still on the Rangers roster, so expect to see him get some action on the bump this series.
What surprised me was that, despite there usually being some sort of crossover between the teams, there are no former Red Sox players on the active roster for the Orioles. A lot of that is a testament to the sheer amount of homegrown talent that Baltimore has brought up throughout the past few years, and those young guys slotting right into high-performing roles on this team without missing a beat, but unless you're a fan of young talent and rooting for the champion to be from the AL East, the Texas Rangers hold more credence to Red Sox fans in this series.