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ALCS Preview: Tigers vs. Yankees

Oct 13, 2012, 12:27 PM EDT

Miguel Cabrera Getty Getty Images

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 Yankees have in store for us in the American League Championship Series.

The Teams

Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees

The Matchups

Game 1 Saturday in New York: Doug Fister vs. Andy Pettitte
Game 2 Sunday in New York: Anibal Sanchez vs. Hiroki Kuroda
Game 3 Tuesday in Detroit: Phil Hughes vs. Justin Verlander
Game 4 Wednesday in Detroit: CC Sabathia vs. Max Scherzer
Game 5 (if necessary) Thursday in Detroit
Game 6 (if necessary) next Saturday in New York
Game 7 (if necessary) next Sunday in New York

Analysis: The Tigers already have their rotation mapped out for the entire series, but there’s still quite a bit of uncertainty for the Yankees. Will Hiroki Kuroda go on short rest in Game 2 or will we see David Phelps? If it’s Phelps, you have to like the Tigers’ chances of leaving New York with at least one win.

Saturday update: Kuroda was named the starter for Game 2, Hughes for Game 3 and Sabathia for Game 4.

Because he was needed in Game 5 of the ALDS yesterday, CC Sabathia would have to go on short rest in Game 3 in order to match up against Justin Verlander. This would set them up to duel again in a potential Game 7. That would be pretty fun. It’s interesting that the Tigers are prepared to give two starts to Anibal Sanchez in the series as opposed to one for Max Scherzer. Sanchez has been solid for nearly two months now, so that’s no slight on him, but perhaps Jim Leyland decided to give Scherzer’s shoulder some extra recovery time.

The Storylines

  • The Yankees took the season series 6-4 while outscoring the Tigers 58-48.
  • The Yankees won’t have C.C. Sabathia in Game 1, but Andy Pettitte is a pretty good alternative. After all, the 40-year-old left-hander has started more postseason games than anyone. He allowed three runs over seven innings in a loss to the Orioles in Game 2 of the ALDS on Monday.
  • What will almost certainly command the most attention is the continuing saga of Alex Rodriguez. How much will he play? Joe Girardi opted to use Eric Chavez against Jason Hammel yesterday because of his numbers against right-handed pitching. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ projected rotation is full of right-handed starters. My guess is that A-Rod will start Game 1 tonight, but he could continue to sit in certain matchups.
  • Justin Verlander had a 5.57 ERA in eight career postseason starts before dominating the Athletics to the tune of a 0.56 ERA and 22 strikeouts over 16 innings during the ALDS. Is this finally his time to shine on the big stage?
  • If the Yankees get two starts out of CC Sabathia during this series, one of them will have to be on short rest. They can either use him on regular rest in Game 4, setting him up for a start on three days’ rest in a potential Game 7 or have him go on short rest in Game 3 and regular rest in a potential Game 7.
  • Will the Yankees offense show up? They managed to outlast the Orioles in the ALDS despite hitting just .211 as a team while scoring 16 runs in five games. Derek Jeter had more hits (eight) than Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano combined (six). It’s unrealistic to think that everyone will get hot at the same time, but this lineup is too talented to be this bad. Right?
  • Likewise, the Tigers held off the surprising Athletics in the ALDS without a ton of help from their big bats. Austin Jackson was 5-for-20 (.250) with seven strikeouts while Miguel Cabrera went 5-for-20 (.250) with two doubles and an RBI and Prince Fielder went 4-for-21 (.190) with one home run and two RBI. Their lineup isn’t nearly as deep or scary as the Yankees, so they need contributions from this important trio in order to advance.
  • Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit combined to give up five runs over 4 2/3 innings against the Athletics. Meanwhile, the Yankees bullpen held the Orioles to just one run over 11 1/3 innings for the entire series. The Tigers’ bullpen was a concern even before the ALDS, so you have to give the Yankees the edge in the late innings.

Prediction

You have to like that the Yankees have the home-field advantage, especially considering the Tigers were not a very good road team during the regular season, but I’m just not a fan of how New York’s rotation lines up for this series. Meanwhile, the Tigers will be well-rested. They are also the younger team and seemingly healthier, too. Jose Valverde might make this pick look silly if he proves to be an adventure in the late innings, but I think they will take it.

TIGERS WIN THE SERIES 4-3

  1. jayscarpa - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    One Scherzer start and no LH starters at all. I’ll take the Yankees.

  2. libertynchurch - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    Orioles proved that Yankees offense can be dampened down a notch or two. Too many Yankee pistons misfiring. One slump? No problem. Two? Well…OK. Three or more? NFW.

    And the Yankees pitching will be up against a stronger Tiger lineup. Somewhere, during this series, Mariano will be missed.

    Tigers in seven.

  3. ericellers - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    Haha! Seattle proved Yankee bats can be ” dampened ” yet here they are?

  4. Brian Donohue - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    Turning point: how Yank pitchers do against #1 and #2 in Det. lineup. All the media will talk about is Miggy and Prince, but if Jackson and Infante aren’t on base for them then they’re far less dangerous — the A’s kept them off base until game 5 and were in every game until that last one. So if Yank pitchers consistently keep Jackson and Infante in the dugout, Yankees go to WS in 5; if not, Detroit could go in 5 or 6 games. Jackson strikes out a ton, so Leyland may want him bunting more; that’s also why A-Rod should play: he’d old but still sound defensively; I’d have him in there but hitting 7th or 8th.

    Agree w/jayscarpa above that Det lack of LH starter will hurt where Yanx have home field edge. Granderson got going in last game v. O’s, Swisher and Cano were struggling but hitting hard outs too, and then there’s that former Phillie who feasts on RH pitching and dramatic moments.

  5. libertynchurch - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    Old Yankees team couldn’t beat the Tigers last year. Your old team is one year older, without its HOF Closer.

    Tigers in seven.

    • bigharold - Oct 13, 2012 at 4:03 PM

      The same Tiger team that had 7 few wins this year and had to fight off the WS?

      Yankees in six.

  6. badintent - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Tiger Fans: One word. Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuol !
    Tigers ? Forgggggggggggggggggggggggggget about it !
    yankees in 7, Arodless comes off bench to hit walkoff jack in 15th. Gets beaten to death by team mates and ex-hoes, Diaz, Hudson, Madonna, etc at home plate.Anyone do Madonna lately ? Rodman is lonely…………….. and drunk.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 13, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      Admittedly…the ex hoes part was funny.
      But I am thinking Dennis Rodman isnt the only person drunk.

  7. alexo0 - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Another battle between two teams with underachieving offenses. I bet the pitchers can’t wait.

  8. cur68 - Oct 13, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Seriously DJ? No mention of I. Suzuki? That’s not even trying, man. C’mon, take 2: Lets match ‘em up again. This is Ichiro’s day. His hour come at last, does anyone seriously doubt that Ichiro will do anything but play out of his mind to claim the One Ring that has been so long denied him? By himself he can carry the Yankees if he has to…

    Ok, I speak in hyperbole but seriously, Ichiro with the bat, D and on base skillz? He will be a factor.

  9. bigharold - Oct 13, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    “If it’s Phelps, you have to like the Tigers’ chances of leaving New York with at least one win.”

    Don’t count on Phelps being a big down grade. He can absolutely pitch and is fearless. That and the fact that the Tiger’s don’t know him, .. one could argue that gives Phelps the edge.

    Yankees in 6.

  10. jdillydawg - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:15 PM

    And the Nationals over the Cards in 4.

    Hey, I like Detroit, but I just don’t see them playing with the same intensity as the other clubs. Yankees will find a way to beat them. After all, Ichiro wasn’t a Yankee last year and he’s playing some good ball lately. And as we’ve seen, all the former Mariners go on to do great things! (I hear Fister and Ichiro are going out for a beer after the game tonight!)

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