Detroit Tigers vs Texas Rangers
Jim Leyland's persistance to not throw Verlander on short rest in game five of the Division Series worked out heavily in favor of the Tigers. Not only did Doug Fister pitch them past New York, Verlander is ready to take the ball in game one opposite CJ Wilson.
After allowing four runs to the Yankees in his last start Verlander should out-pitch Wilson in game one despite being on the road. Six times this season Verlander allowed four earned runs or more in a start, and was lights out the followign start each time. In those six starts following "off" games (The Tiger went 5-1 in those outings), Verlander allowed just three earned runs total, surrendering zero runs three times and one run three times.
The pitching match-ups favor Detroit going forward. Max Scherzer, fresh off a brilliant outing in which he carried a no-hitter through five against the Yankees will square off with Derek Holland in game two. Holland has been solid of late, lowering his ERA almost a half a point from the beginning of August until the end of the season. Both guys gave up their fair share of longballs during the season, so if there is going to be a game with offensive fireworks it'll be this one in Arlington.
Detroit heads back home knowing Doug Fister hasn't lost a home game since July 15th....when he was with Seattle. Colby Lewis is going to have to avoid giving up homers - he gave up 35 this season and five in two starts against Detroit - to keep the Rangers in this one.
Game four would seem to be the most favorable pitching match-up for Texas as Matt Harrison was 13-4 with a 3.39 ERA this year while Rick Porcello went 14-9 with a 4.75 ERA for the Tigers. However Porello won his only start against the Rangers, scattering six hits and giving up one run over six innings in a 8-1 Tigers win. Harrison was 0-2 against Detroit, allowing seven earned runs in 10 innings. The Tigers beat him up, knocking him around for 17 hits and five walks in the 10 innings.
The pitching match-ups should for games five, six and seven should in theory be the same as one through three, but strange things can happen in playoff baseball, evidenced by Verlander and CC Sabathia each only getting one real outing in the Division Series.
If either team falls behind, their ace could conceivably come back on short rest.
While the Tigers have an edge in starting pitching, the Rangers have a superior offense that is capable of exploding if Detroits doesn't have their "A" game. The Tigers don't have the same luxury, and will have to go back to relying on the two guys who carried them all year in Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez because late-season power addition Delmon Young is absent from the ALCS roster because of an oblique strain.
Both teams have absolute knock out out bullpens. Great set-up men, dominant closers. Not surprise that the two best bullpens in the AL are playing for the Pennant.
Both managers have World Series experience, with Jim Leyland getting the edge over Ron Washington because he's been to the dance twice, winning it in 1997 with the Marlins.
Neither team has a glaring weakness, but it's hard to bet against a pitching in a short series.
TIGERS IN 6
MVP JUSTIN VERLANDER