Skip to content

ALDS Preview: Tigers vs. Athletics

Oct 6, 2012, 11:30 AM EDT

Miguel Cabrera

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

The Teams

Detroit Tigers (88-74) vs. Oakland Athletics (94-68)

The Matchups

Game 1 Saturday in Detroit: Jarrod Parker vs. Justin Verlander
Game 2 Sunday in Detroit: Tommy Milone vs. Doug Fister
Game 3 Tuesday in Oakland: Undecided (likely Brett Anderson) vs. Anibal Sanchez
Game 4 (if necessary) Wednesday in Oakland
Game 5 (if necessary) Thursday in Oakland

Analysis: As impressive as the A’s group of rookie starting pitchers have been, they just don’t have someone on the level of Justin Verlander, who is primed to start two games in the series if necessary. By the way, he allowed one run in 13 innings over two starts against the A’s this season. It’s a pretty interesting call to use Milone in Game 2 in Detroit, given that he had a 4.83 ERA on the road this season compared to a 2.74 ERA at home. It wouldn’t shock me if the Tigers head to Oakland up 2-0.

Athletics manager Bob Melvin hasn’t officially announced who he will use in Game 3, but it’s expected to be Brett Anderson, who hasn’t pitched since September 19 due to an oblique injury. That’s a big deal, as he had a 2.57 ERA and 25/7 K/BB ratio in 35 innings through his first six starts back from Tommy John surgery. Anibal Sanchez got off to a bit of a rough start after coming over from the Marlins, but he allowed three earned runs or less in seven out of his final eight starts during the regular season. Max Scherzer will start Game 4 for the Tigers if it gets that far. He probably would have pitched sooner if it wasn’t for recent shoulder and ankle injuries. A.J. Griffin figures to pitch Game 4 for the A’s.

The Storylines

  • The Tigers took the season series 4-3 while outscoring the Athletics 40-37.
  • The Tigers were tied with the Cardinals for the worst road record (38-43) among the playoff teams, so it’s important for them to take advantage of playing the first two games of the series at Comerica Park.
  • Strikeouts. We’re probably going to see a lot of them. The Athletics hit a ton of home runs (they were seventh in the majors with 195), but they also set an American League record by striking out 1,387 times. Meanwhile, Tigers pitchers were fifth in the majors this season with 1,318 strikeouts.
  • It’s a good thing Tigers’ pitchers are adept at getting strikeouts, because their defense is easily the worst of any team in the playoffs. They managed to win the American League Central in spite of it, but the margin for error is quite literally much smaller now.
  • Miguel Cabrera was awesome against pretty much everyone this season, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that he put a hurting on the Athletics. The Triple Crown winner went 14-for-29 (.483) with three home runs and 14 RBI in seven games against A’s pitching. That’s nice and all, but the Tigers need contributions from other key bats like Austin Jackson and Prince Fielder so that Cabrera actually sees something to hit. The Tigers’ lineup doesn’t have a ton of depth.
  • Thanks to an unlikely cast, including Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Jonny Gomes, Seth Smith, Brandon Moss and Chris Carter, the A’s do have some pop. But they were also second-to-last in the American League in batting average and third from the bottom in on-base percentage. Meanwhile, Tigers pitchers gave up the third least home runs in the American League. What happens if he power isn’t there?
  • The Athletics don’t get on base a lot, but they steal bases when they do. They had 122 stolen bases during the regular season, the most among all playoff teams. Coco Crisp was fourth in the American League with 39 steals while Cespedes, Cliff Pennington and Reddick were all over double-digits. The Tigers were 29th in the majors this season with 59 steals.
  • The Tigers have the edge in the rotation, but they were 10th in the AL with a 3.79 bullpen ERA while the A’s were second at 2.94. The Tigers have the big names like Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel, but the under-the-radar trio of Grant Balfour, Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle were untouchable down the stretch for Oakland. Things could get dicey if Jim Leyland is forced to pull one of his starters early.

Prediction

The Athletics went 72-38 after June 2 and came back from 13 games down to win the American League West. With their rookie starting pitchers, a strong bullpen and an all-or-nothing approach at the plate, they might be the most interesting story in this entire playoffs. Assuming you don’t have a horse in this race, this scrappy and inexperienced bunch is going to be awful difficult to root against. Still, I must separate my head from my heart here. And in doing so, I think the Tigers starting pitching will prove to be too much.

TIGERS WIN THE SERIES 3-1

Latest Posts
  1. Cameron Maybin suspended for 25 games for amphetamines

    Jul 23, 2014, 3:10 PM EDT

    cameron maybin getty Getty Images

    I’m guessing this is not a prank by the Padres minor leaguers.

  2. Kelly Johnson goes on Yankees’ disabled list with groin injury

    Jul 23, 2014, 1:48 PM EDT

    Kelly Johnson Yankees Getty Images

    Kelly Johnson isn’t as needed in the Yankees’ lineup following the trade for Chase Headley and now he won’t be available at all for a while, as the utility man has been placed on the disabled list with a strained groin.

  3. Nationals place Ryan Zimmerman on the disabled list

    Jul 23, 2014, 1:23 PM EDT

    Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals

    As expected Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been placed on the disabled list after injuring his hamstring during last night’s game.

  4. The dizzying intellect of Tom Glavine

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:16 PM EDT

    Braves v Yankees X Getty Images

    Tom Glavine crafted his Hall of Fame career with plenty of skill and wit.

  5. Jeff Francoeur, now an outfielder/pitcher, gets call up to Padres

    Jul 23, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT

    jeff francoeur getty Getty Images

    After back-to-back terrible seasons Jeff Francoeur’s chances of returning to the majors looked so bleak that last month he decided to take up pitching at Triple-A for the Padres’ affiliate, but now San Diego is actually calling him up and presumably he’ll mostly serve as an outfielder.

  6. Meanwhile, in the comic books

    Jul 23, 2014, 11:37 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 11.37.06 AM

    Remembering when the Avengers played baseball in the Astrodome

  7. Tim Lincecum saves it for utterly spent Giants

    Jul 23, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

    Tim Lincecum Getty Images

    The Giants’ 9-6 victory over the Phillies lasted 14 innings, involved 16 pitchers throwing 507 times to the plate, took five hours and 46 minutes, included more cramping than a track meet for septuagenarians and it finally ended 7 minutes before 1 a.m. Wednesday morning at Citizens Bank Park when Tim Lincecum really and truly recorded his first career save.

  8. Jacob deGrom continues to be ridiculous

    Jul 23, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 8.13.15 AM AP

    The converted shortstop is on a roll.

  9. Marlins interested in Jim Johnson (again)

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT

    Jim Johnson A's AP

    Oakland’s move to acquire Johnson and his $10 million salary from Baltimore never made a ton of sense this offseason and it’s worked out much worse than expected, as he almost immediately lost the closer gig and has a 6.25 ERA with 23 walks in 40 innings.

  10. L.J. Hoes hit a homer for his mom last night

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 8.11.04 AM Getty Images

    Jeez, Mrs. Hoes. You should’ve asked sooner!

  11. Phillies drawing lots of interest in Antonio Bastardo

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    Philadelphia Phillies v Colorado Rockies Getty Images

    While we wait to see if the Phillies will end up trading aces Cole Hamels and/or Cliff Lee, it sounds likely that reliever Antonio Bastardo will be moved before July 31.

  12. Verducci: baseball should think about an “illegal defense” rule to combat shifts

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:28 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 9.19.46 AM Getty Images

    One of baseball’s top analysts advocates for one of the dumber ideas you’ll hear in a long while.

  13. Ryan Zimmerman leaves Nats game with a strained hamstring

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:16 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 7.41.45 AM AP

    Zimmerman has missed 44 games this year. He’s about to miss more.

  14. Chase Headley plays the hero in his first game in pinstripes

    Jul 23, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 8.41.58 AM AP

    Off the plane a half hour before game time, the hero by midnight.

  15. Photo: Jack White really enjoyed the Cubs game last night

    Jul 23, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT

    Camera

    A seven nation army couldn’t cheer him up.

  16. And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

    Jul 23, 2014, 7:17 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 6.23.57 AM AP

    Jonathan Lucory hit two homers last night, including the walkoff.

Featured video

Teams searching for trade deadline impact
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. H. Street (3683)
  2. C. Lee (2846)
  3. T. Tulowitzki (2614)
  4. H. Ramirez (2550)
  5. Y. Puig (2383)
  1. C. Headley (2328)
  2. T. Walker (2327)
  3. B. Belt (2159)
  4. M. Trout (2135)
  5. D. Price (2125)