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. Dallas Keuchel is done for the season

    Sep 21, 2014, 1:08 PM EDT

    dallas keuchel getty Getty Images

    Astros pitching coach Brent Strom announced Sunday that ace left-hander Dallas Keuchel won’t make another start this season.

  2. Carlos Beltran may not play again this year

    Sep 21, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT

    Carlos Beltran Getty Getty Images

    It’s been a lost season for the Yankees’ outfielder.

  3. Must-click link: Tommy Harper and the Red Sox’ racist past

    Sep 21, 2014, 11:33 AM EDT

    red sox logo

    A far more recent past than most people will admit.

  4. Ryan Zimmerman hits an RBI triple in his return to the Nationals lineup

    Sep 21, 2014, 11:06 AM EDT

    Ryan Zimmerman AP AP

    His presence will give the Nats a ton of flexibility down the stretch.

  5. Video: Yasiel Puig made a spectacular diving catch

    Sep 21, 2014, 10:40 AM EDT

    Puig Dive

    Like we always say: he giveth and he taketh away. Yesterday he gaveth.

  6. Matt Garza: if you think I was trying to hit McCutchen, “you’re just an idiot”

    Sep 21, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Matt Garza AP

    He said it rather than tweeted it. Which is sad, because I had good money on it coming out “your just an idiot” if he had tweeted it.

  7. The Padres are going to keep Bud Black as their manager for 2015

    Sep 21, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT

    Bud Black Getty Getty Images

    Bud Black will be back for year nine at the helm of the Padres.

  8. Settling the Score: Saturday’s results

    Sep 21, 2014, 8:04 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 8.03.08 AM AP

    The Royals are not doing too well in the biggest series to hit Kansas City in 29 years.

  9. Video: Umpires review, uphold Nick Franklin homer that hit the “C” ring at Tropicana Field

    Sep 20, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

    Nick Franklin Nick Franklin

    Nick Franklin hit the “C” ring catwalk at Tropicana Field with a deep fly ball to right field, which was initially ruled a home run. Replay review confirmed the ruling.

  10. Scrambling Dodgers to give Jamey Wright a start on Sunday

    Sep 20, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT

    Jamey Wright Jamey Wright

    The pitching-light Dodgers will have Jamey Wright make his second start in the last seven years on Sunday against the Cubs.

  11. Jerome Williams becomes first to beat one opponent with three different teams in the same season

    Sep 20, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT

    Jerome Williams Jerome Williams

    Jerome Williams continued to pitch well for the Phillies, even notching a baseball first in the process of defeating the Athletics on Saturday.

  12. Matt Garza ejected after hitting Andrew McCutchen a second time

    Sep 20, 2014, 9:19 PM EDT

    Matt Garza Matt Garza

    Matt Garza doesn’t hit many batters, but the right-hander managed to hit Andrew McCutchen twice in his start on Saturday.

  13. Mark Teixeira left Saturday’s game with soreness in his right wrist

    Sep 20, 2014, 8:35 PM EDT

    Mark Teixeira Mark Teixeira

    Mark Teixeira’s wrist injury flared up again, forcing him out of Saturday’s game against the Blue Jays in the fifth inning.

  14. Josh Hamilton has needed 12 cortisone injections in the last two weeks

    Sep 20, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT

    Josh Hamilton Josh Hamilton

    Josh Hamilton has received a lot of pain-killing injections lately, as the veteran has battled shoulder and rib cage problems over the last two weeks.

  15. Jason Kipnis considered day-to-day with hamstring issue

    Sep 20, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

    Jason Kipnis Getty Images

    Jason Kipnis is listed as day-to-day with a sore right hamstring.

  16. Glen Perkins has learned his lesson about pitching through an injury

    Sep 20, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT

    Glen Perkins Glen Perkins

    Glen Perkins tried to tough out an injury and it didn’t go so well, but he seems to have learned his lesson.

  17. Tigers hang on for second straight win against Royals

    Sep 20, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT

    Hunter AP AP

    This was a day of missed opportunities for the Royals.

  18. Nationals activate Ryan Zimmerman from the disabled list

    Sep 20, 2014, 4:24 PM EDT

    Ryan Zimmerman AP AP

    Zimmerman has been sidelined since July 22 due to a Grade 3 strain of his right hamstring.

  19. The Braves could shake things up in their baseball operations department

    Sep 20, 2014, 3:26 PM EDT

    braves logo large

    The Braves have wilted down the stretch and it appears that some changes could be in store for their front office following the season.

  20. The Yankees will open the gates early for their final home series next week

    Sep 20, 2014, 2:29 PM EDT

    Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Getty Images

    With Derek Jeter’s career coming to an end, the Yankees will open the gates early next week for their final home series of the season.

Featured video

Patience finally paying off for Royals fans
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (2964)
  2. D. Ortiz (2218)
  3. J. Hamilton (2181)
  4. N. Arenado (2150)
  5. C. Kershaw (2108)
  1. G. Stanton (2090)
  2. A. Pujols (1980)
  3. A. Rizzo (1979)
  4. M. Trout (1972)
  5. A. Pagan (1944)