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ALDS Preview: Tigers vs. Yankees

Sep 29, 2011, 4:00 PM EDT

Justin Verlander

You can’t predict baseball, but you can at least lay out the parameters. So let’s take a look at what the Yankees and the Tigers have in store for us in the American League Division Series.

The Teams

Detroit Tigers (95-67) vs. New York Yankees (97-65)

The Matchups

Game 1 Friday in New York: Justin Verlander vs. CC Sabathia
Game 2 Saturday in New York: Doug Fister vs. Ivan Nova
Game 3 Monday in Detroit: Freddy Garcia vs. Max Scherzer
Game 4 (if necessary) Tuesday in Detroit: Undecided vs. Rick Porcello, maybe
Game 5 (if necessary) Next Thursday in New York: Undecided vs. Undecided

Analysis: I think this is all a bit fluid. I mean, is there any chance that we won’t see CC Sabathia and/or Justin Verlander back on short rest if their teams are in a 1-2 hole?  Heck, I’m hoping for it.

The Storylines

  • This is easily the series with the most sex appeal. The Bombers vs. The Verlanders. Never mind that (a) the Yankees are more than just firepower; and (b) the Tigers are more than Justin Verlander. But, yeah, this is the one we all want to see, right?;
  • Something else the Yankees have? Pitching. For all of the drama about the rotation, it was solid all year and the bullpen — especially the Rivera, Robertson, Soriano back end of it — is fantastic. The Yankees had the third best staff in the AL in terms of runs allowed. They’re not just going to bludgeon you to death;
  • Likewise, the Tigers aren’t just the Cy Young Award Winner, Presumptive. Indeed, they had the fourth best offense in the AL and only the eighth best pitching (though the pitching came on late). Miguel Cabrera is probably the best hitter in the AL. A fact that will make his presumed fourth or fifth place finish in the MVP voting look rather silly.
  • Doug Fister is a name Tigers fans and hardcore baseball fans know well based on his 8-1, 1.79 ERA since being traded from Seattle. I have this feeling a lot of casual Yankees fans are going to be saying “who is ‘dis guy we can’t hit?”
  • A study in contrasts in closers: Mariano Rivera has ice water in his veins. Jose Valverde has ants in his pants. But Valverde was fantastic this year, finishing 49 for 49 in save opportunities. I love the yin and the yang of this here.
  • The Tigers defense may be the difference-maker here. It’s not good apart from Austin Jackson in center. The Yankees, in contrast, are pretty fantastic with the leather at most positions. I have this feeling a game will be decided by a Tiger error or some nutso play by Robinson Cano or Brett Gardner.


Every fiber of my being tells me to pick the Yankees because, heck, they’re the Yankees. I think they’re more talented, they’re certainly more experienced and that bit about defense really sticks out for me.

But I have something jumping around in my gut. Something gnawing at my consciousness. Something that makes me want to pick the Tigers on that whole “they’re DANGEROUS!” or that “they’re PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME!” or that “Verlander and Fister and pray for a twister” basis. It’s almost compelling me to pick them even though my usually analytical mind makes me want to ignore it.

Who cares? Let’s do it!


  1. cur68 - Sep 29, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    Man, I hupe you are tight Craig. That’s what I want, too. But, will it happen? Doubt it. Hard to stomp out the Universe.

    • cur68 - Sep 29, 2011 at 4:06 PM

      *sigh* need I say “edit function”? So that’s 2, count ’em 2, godawful spelling errors in the first sentence alone. *Hangs head in shame*.

      • kinggeorge96 - Sep 29, 2011 at 4:12 PM

        If it makes you feel any better, I only read 1 mistake till you noted there were 2…

        As long as we know what’s supposed to be there, you can basically mess up any letters in the middle you want and the human brain will get your drift. At least most that is….

      • El Bravo - Sep 29, 2011 at 4:21 PM

        so unlike you cur. get it together!

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Sep 29, 2011 at 5:08 PM

        So you don’t hope Craig is tight?

      • ultimatecardinalwarrior - Sep 29, 2011 at 7:18 PM

        I thought you meant “tight” as in “drunk”

  2. ditto65 - Sep 29, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    And the best line in this post goes to…

    “Mariano Rivera has ice water in his veins. Jose Valverde has ants in his pants.”

    • ditto65 - Sep 29, 2011 at 4:18 PM

      *best line in this post AWARD…

      Anybody else hupe for an edit function? A way to tight a wrong? Please?

  3. dlevalley - Sep 29, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    Dombrowski favored the Baseball Gods by giving us “Fister-for-Furbush” and is thus being rewarded accordingly.

  4. ditto65 - Sep 29, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    A little bit of childhood sentimentality, Craig?

  5. jimbo1949 - Sep 29, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    Thanks Craig, I’ve duly noted your previous predictions and adjusted accordingly.

  6. citifieldurinal - Sep 29, 2011 at 4:32 PM

    Pythagorean W-L has the Yankees at 101-61, and the Tigers at 89-73.

    WAR for the starters (Fangraphs):

    Verlander (7.0 in 251 IP) v. Sabathia (7.2 in 237.1 IP)
    Fister (2.4 in 70 IP) v. Nova (2.7 in 165.1 IP)
    Scherzer (2.7 in 195 IP) v. Garcia (2.2 in 146.2 IP)

    I dunno, both teams can rake so this should be interesting.

  7. nymets05 - Sep 29, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    Maybe the Yankees will lay down and roll over just like they did against the Rsys this week.Go Tigers!

  8. miketreedy - Sep 29, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    The Yankees are like a big bully. Get the first big punch in and they will start retreating. That’s what happened in the ALCS with the Rangers last year. The Rangers got on them early and they gave up. Hell, Yankee stadium was empty by the 8th inning each game. Go get’em Tigers.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 29, 2011 at 5:49 PM

      Exactly, remember in game one when the Rangers went up 5-0 in the first 4 innings, the Yanks totally rolled over and lost the game, beginning a four game sweep.

      Oh wait, the Yanks came back and won Game 1…

      I think both teams are even, but I doubt [and hope] that the Yanks go 8/63 with RISP this year (5/51 after Game 1).

      • miketreedy - Sep 29, 2011 at 8:01 PM

        Listen, if the Yankees played every year up to their talent & salary levels they would have won more than 1 championship in the past 10 years. They are spoiled players. When things start going wrong they fold. I think Detroit wins this serious.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 29, 2011 at 8:12 PM

        salary levels

        All the last bastion of the person with no argument based in fact. Bring up salaries. The $170M Red Sox are sitting at home, the $134M Cubs are sitting at home, the $142M Mets are sitting at home, $142M Angels, get the picture?

        Glad you brought up the folding part again, since I didn’t just disprove it in the previous comment. What next? They have no heart, no guts, no grit?

      • ditto65 - Sep 29, 2011 at 8:23 PM

        All we need is some lame steroid comment to make this complete.

  9. dailyrev - Sep 29, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    There’s the Slump-starter factor in play here. Reds fans, can you remind us about what a superb performance from a sublime starting pitcher in game 1 of a 5 game series can do to an offense? Thank you, now you may return to your how-the-Bengals-will-expose-the-Bills’-reality projections.

    Now JV doesn’t have to toss a PG, NH, or even a SO. But he can drop the Yanx into a batting slump from which they can’t recover quickly enough. Or he could get bashed for 5 runs in the 1st inning and the Tiggers will be sent quickly into the Hundred Acre Wood of early winter.

  10. bigharold - Sep 29, 2011 at 5:17 PM


    We here on the bridge of the Death Star do not approve. The force is strong this season in the Universe, … Yankees in 4.

    • yankeesgameday - Sep 29, 2011 at 7:51 PM

      Bro, don’t make death star analogies because, you know, every one on it was killed.

      • bigharold - Sep 29, 2011 at 8:42 PM

        That was Hollywood, ..we’re the REAL Evil Empire. Bring on them Tigers, .. Yankees in 4!!

  11. trbowman - Sep 29, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    Of course I’ll be cheering for Motown, but I like the Yanks in 4. Too much offense.

  12. sportsfan8888 - Sep 30, 2011 at 12:34 AM

    This is a rematch of the first round of the 2006 AL playoffs
    Tigers and Yankees split 2 games in NY
    Then Tigers closed out the Series with 2 wins at home in Detroit.
    Granderson was on that 2006 Tigers World Series team.

    The main difference is that this Tigers team is much improved
    over that 2006 squad at multiple positions, the starting rotation and the bullpen.

    Verlander was a rookie in 2006, now he is a Cy Young pitcher.
    Fister is better than Bonderman
    Sherzer is better than Robertson.
    Tigers bullpen Valverde is better than Jones.
    Benoit is a shutdown set up guy like Zumaya was in ’06

    3B Bettemit is a better hitter than Inge
    SS Peralta is a better hitter than the ’06 SS(Guillen?)
    1B Cabrera is much better than 1B Sean Casey
    DH Victor Martinez is much better than Craig Monroe or Marcus Thames at DH
    C Avila is a better hitter and comparable on defense to Pudge in 2006.
    LF Delmon Young is better than Craig Monroe or Marcus Thames in LF
    CF Granderson with the Yankees is better than Granderson with the Tigers in ’06,
    plus better than present Tigers’ CF Austin Jackson offensively
    RF Magglio in 2006 had more power and better D, but he is hitting something
    like 400+ in Aug-September for the Tigers albeit with less power.

    So overall, the Tigers squad of 2011 is a better team than the 2006 team that beat
    the Yankees in 4 games on and went to the World Series.

    Yankees also are getting older(Posada, A Rod, Jeter, Rivera)
    and are not the invincible Yankees that won multiple World Series titles.

    I say history repeats itself, Tigers split with the Yankees in the Bronx
    and then win 2 at home in CoAmerica Park to close out the Series in 4 games

    • Jeremy T - Sep 30, 2011 at 1:54 AM

      It’s been 5 years, the Yankees aren’t exactly the same team. I wouldn’t say Detroit winning a 5 game series means they’re the favorite to do it again even if they just did it yesterday, so saying it has any relevance at all 5 whole seasons later is a bit of a stretch.

    • bchaz19 - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:16 AM

      I’m pulling for the Tigers, but it’s CoPa or Comerica Park.

  13. sportsfan8888 - Sep 30, 2011 at 2:49 AM

    Yankees are older and not as good as the 2006 ballclub.
    Posada, A Rod, Jeter, are all close to doing their “swan songs”
    and not producing as much as they have in the past.

    Rivera is still good, but he is older and not automatic anymore.

    Larry Stone, top Sports Writer in the Pacific Northwest
    who predicted every MLB playoff team and the winners of every play off series
    including the Giants winning the World Series last year,

    is picking the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series in 2011

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 30, 2011 at 3:26 PM

      No, my specialty is outside-the-box predictions that combine statistical acumen, keen insights, and shrewd analysis. You know, like last year’s forecast of the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series — the same Cardinals who didn’t win a single game in their divisional series against the Dodgers.

      The year before that, I picked the Angels (first-round ouster), and the year before that the Cubs (first-round ouster), and the year before that the A’s (ousted in American League Championship Series).

      I’d slow down on labeling him the next Nostradamus

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