Found October 03, 2013 on Fox Sports Detroit:
As the Detroit Tigers prepare to face the Oakland Athletics in the American League Division Series for the second straight season, there are a few concerns about their chances. 1. The health and effectiveness of Miguel Cabrera: Since just before the All-Star break, Cabrera has been dealing with an abdominal strainhip flexor injury. The doctors and training staff said that he could not make the injury worse by playing with it, but Cabrera is very limited while running. "I like the way hes swinging the bat right now," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said before the team left for Oakland. "I think his timing is back pretty darned good. Its probably not 100 percent by any means. Hes not 100 percent. Hes been playing in a lot of pain. "Hes a real tough guy. If I told you everything hes playing in, you probably wouldnt believe it, because hes playing in a lot of pain. So, hes a trouper. I think hes swinging the bat good right now. He hit the ball very, very good in Miami. Hell be ready to go." Cabrera, a candidate to repeat as MVP, finished the regular season with a league-leading .348 average, 44 home runs and 137 RBIs. But after batting .356 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs in August, Cabrera faded a bit in September. He hit just .278 with one home run and seven RBIs. Although the five-day break (Cabrera did not play Sunday in Miami) will help, it's likely that Cabrera needs an extended period of time to heal completely. Cabrera said Tuesday that he was feeling good and was ready to go. "That's what it's all about, man," Cabrera said. "It's what (Derek) Jeter say always, try to make the playoffs. We live for this. Try to have success in the playoffs and try to get a chance to win the World Series." 2. The bullpen: It's been a point of concern pretty much the entire season and that has only increased with the announcement that veteran Phil Coke and fireballing rookie Bruce Rondon won't be available for the first round. Joaquin Benoit stepped seamlessly into the closer's role and Drew Smyly adjusted well to being a reliever after starting last season. Jose Veras, acquired just before the trade deadline, has been good but not great with the Tigers, going 0-1 with a 3.20 ERA. Then there's Al Alburquerque, who can be completely unhittable or completely wild. You just don't know from day to day which pitcher you'll get. But when he's on, he can get out both left-handers and right-handers effectively. "It's gonna affect us a lot because Coke has a lot of experience," Benoit said. "He set the tone last year and we really need an arm like that. But we have to work with what we have right now. "We need to try to get the best out of the guys we have, make sure we don't overuse them and try to get the right guys at the right time." Starter Rick Porcello will be in the bullpen and may be called upon to deliver some important outs. 3. Is Justin Verlander back to being himself: Aside from the bullpen, the thing that caused the most angst for Tigers fans this season was Verlander. Verlander, the AL MVP and Cy Young winner in 2011 and the Cy Young runner-up last season, had his worst statistical season since 2008. He went 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. Although Verlander had just one win in six September starts, his ERA during the month was 2.27 and his WHIP 1.11. "Definitely feel pretty good," Verlander said. "I talked to you guys a ton throughout the season. "At the point where I realized it was just going to be a grind the whole year, then kind of my focus turned and changed to all right, I think we're going to make the postseason so I've got to do whatever I can and battle my (butt) off to try to get prepared for that. "I put in a ton of work. I really feel like the last couple starts were a whole lot better and I'm pretty doggone close to where I need to be." Leyland said Verlander would start Game 2 in Oakland Saturday. In last year's ALDS against the A's, Verlander was 2-0 with an 0.56 ERA and 0.75 WHIP, including the series-clinching 6-0, complete-game victory in Game 5. 4. Can Jhonny Peralta really play left field: Peralta served his 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal and was welcomed back to the team. But when Peralta returned, Jose Iglesias had taken over at shortstop, leaving only a likely part-time role in left field available. Peralta, who had never played the outfield in the majors before last weekend in Miami, accepted his role. He spent time in Lakeland working in left field in the instructional league. "What I do in Miami and the Instructional League, I feel pretty good," Peralta said. "I feel good on the balls I try to play in the outfield. I dont got to say Im the best outfielder, and everything, but I try to do my best." While the Tigers have not yet confirmed that Peralta will be on the postseason roster, you can expect him to make it after batting .303 with 11 home runs and 55 RBIs in 107 games. 5. Will the offense get back on track: Fans will have the memory of the Tigers getting no-hit by Miami's Henderson Alvarez on the final day of the regular season fresh in their minds. That and the fact that the Tigers scored just 14 runs in their last seven games have fans hyperventilating about the lack of offense. "Im not as concerned as the fans, because I know this is the way it is: either we hit or we dont," Leyland said. "Just that simple. Im not going to sit around and worry about it." Maybe in this instance, the layoff between games will help as the A's have the same layoff. Torii Hunter pooh-poohed the notion that the offense won't be able to bounce back after the late swoon. "Its amazing, because it dont matter if you hit 50 home runs, five home runs, or score any runs at all," Hunter said. "What you did in the regular season dont mean jack. Simple as that." As if to prove Hunter's point, the Cleveland Indians were shut out at home, 4-0, in Wednesday's wild card game against the Tampa Bay Rays. That came after the Indians won the last 10 games of the regular season. The one thing that people are not concerned about is the starting rotation. The Tigers have leading Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer, Verlander, AL ERA champion Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister set up to face the A's. "All these teams that are going to the postseason have one thing in common, that we talked about in spring training," Leyland said. "Pitching will decide your fate, most likely."
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Detroit Tigers will win it all, here’s why

At 9:37 eastern time on Friday night, the Detroit Tigers will finally kick off their much anticipated playoff run. They’ll start by playing in the rowdy house that Billy Beane built. Beane’s Oakland A’s are favored by many to knock off the Tigers in the ALDS best of 5 series. I think not. Yes, the Tigers’ offense has sagged as Miguel Cabrera’s power has dipped due to injury...

Cabrera's health a concern for Tigers

That sweet swing is still there. No matter how banged up Miguel Cabrera has been, he's always a threat to hit the ball where nobody can catch it. It's the rest of his duties that have looked more and more painful. Those jogs out of the batter's box became progressively slower - and although Cabrera helped the Detroit Tigers win the AL Central for a third straight year...

Cabrera's health concerns Tigers

That sweet swing is still there. No matter how banged up Miguel Cabrera has been, he's always a threat to hit the ball where nobody can catch it. It's the rest of his duties that have looked more and more painful. Those jogs out of the batter's box became progressively slower -- and although Cabrera helped the Detroit Tigers win the American League Central for a third...

Peralta makes Tigers' ALDS roster

Jhonny Peralta is on the Detroit Tigers 25-man roster for the American League Division Series, which was no surprise. Peralta, the All-Star shortstop who missed the stretch run with a 50-day suspension for PED use, has moved to left field. He hit .250 in three games at that position after returning to the team one week ago, but will come off the bench Friday night in Game 1 against...

Jose Iglesias' skills vital to Tigers' postseason

DETROIT -- There's plenty to like about Detroit Tigers rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias. With a .303 batting average, he led all American League rookies. He turns the plays that will someday make him a Gold Glove contender, and his 25 infield hits led the league. Iglesias, 23, is a strong contender for AL Rookie of the Year, along with Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Wil Myers, Rays...

Peralta makes Tigers' roster for division series

Jhonny Peralta is on the Detroit Tigers' roster for the AL division series against the Oakland Athletics. Just over a week ago, the All-Star shortstop completed his 50-game suspension for ties to the Biogenesis clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs. Peralta isn't in the starting lineup for Game 1 on Friday night in Oakland. The Tigers acquired shortstop...

Detroit Tigers Playoff Roundtable: Sizing Up the Oakland A’s

Will the Tigers be celebrating after their ALDS matchup with Oakland? The Detroit Tigers bounced the Oakland A’s from last season’s playoffs in a dramatic five-game series. Can the Tigers do it again in the 2013 ALDS or will the A’s knock off the Central champs? 1. Do you agree or disagree with the decision to start Scherzer in Game 1? If you disagree, who should have gotten...

Old Hoss previews Tigers-A's

Editor's note: Old Hoss Radbourn might be the best pitcher in baseball history that you have never heard of. And rightfully so, since he pitched in the late 1800s . The Hall of Famer put up legendary numbers in his 11-year career, with his best season coming in 1884 when he pitched the last 27 games for the Providence Grays. He won 26 of those outings and then picked up three...

AL Playoff Preview: Oakland A`s At Detroit Tigers

Playoff Preview: Oakland v. A`s Background: These two dynamic teams aren`t strangers to the post-season, or to each other. Rewind back to last year where we found both teams in the exact same position. Oakland held home field advantage while Detroit came in as the Central Division champions. The teams were, and currently are, constructed in opposite designs. The Tigers are built...

ALDS Schedule: Times Set for Games 3, 4, 5 of Tigers-A’s Series

The Detroit Tigers’ two potential home games vs. Oakland in the ALDS both were handed early start times by Major League Baseball. The Tigers and A’s will start Game 3 at 1:07 p.m. ET Monday, with Game 4 (if necessary) set for a 5 p.m. start. (Should be fun getting in and out of the city for that one …) If the Red Sox-Rays series ends in three, that Game 4 time would push back...

VIDEO: Jim Leyland moonwalks with Michael Jackson impersonator

So apparently the AL Central clincher wasn’t the first time Tigers manager Jim Leyland broke out the moonwalk. MLB Fan Cave recently put together this video montage of some of the best dance moves of the 2013 season. Joaquin Benoit made it, Miguel Cabrera made it but it was Jim Leyland who caught my attention at least with his now signature moonwalk. Except this time he was performing...

ALDS Preview: A's Versus Tigers

After a rousing 2012 American League Division Series, the Oakland A's and the Detroit Tigers will match-up again in the best-of-five-game series. We take a close look at the key match-ups going into the series.

ALDS: A’s Want To Hold That Tiger

Last season the Detroit Tigers and Oakland A’s thrilled baseball fans with a five game series in the American League Division Series.  Tigers ace Justin Verlander led the Tigers to the series win with a masterful game five performance. We find ourselves treated to the rematch this October.  The A’s didn’t need a dramatic and historic late season rally to swipe the American...

Detroit vs. Oakland ALDS: Position by position breakdown

The autumn winds are blowing in Detroit and after finishing off the regular season by getting no-hit by Henderson Alvarez of the Miami Marlins it’s time for postseason baseball. And for the second straight year — and the fourth time ever — the Tigers and A’s will square off in the postseason. With these two teams and their familiarity playing each other when it counts the...
All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.