Tigers Vy For Another Shot at World Series Title

2012 Runner-up looking for revenge
The Detroit Tigers were heavily favored to win the World Series last year, but in a stunning turn of events they were swept by the San Francisco Giants. This year they will face the Oakland Athletics in the ALDS, the team that forced a Game 5 in the exact same matchup last year.

Billy Beane, the General Manager for the Oakland Athletics and the man behind Moneyball, further improved his team over the winter and as the team matured, they won their second division title in a row. The A’s went 96-66, while Detroit won the AL Central with a 93-69 record.

This year will be different
Both teams have undergone some changes, some in the offseason and some during the regular season. Last year the Tigers were all about Justin Verlander and Triple Crown winner/MVP Miguel Cabrera. They were the ones that led the team all the way to the World Series last year. This year Miggy might even have had a better season stats wise. Justin Verlander however has been overshadowed by an unleashed Max Scherzer. Scherzer always has been a good pitcher, but this season he managed to keep hits and walks down, whilst sustaining his strikeout rate. He is the ace of what has been a very strong rotation which also contains Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister and Rick Porcello.

The worst part of Detroit’s game for years now has been their defense. They severely upgraded that department when they traded for shortstop Jose Iglesias this summer. GM Dave Dombrowski was forced to do so when Jhonny Peralta was suspended for fifty games for using performance enhancing drugs. Peralta, who served his suspension during the season, has joined the team again and will most likely play left field.

A suspension is the reason most people think the Athletics did not beat the Tigers in last year’s ALDS. Bartolo Colon served his 50-game suspension for the same reasons as Peralta’s at the end of last season. This year Colon returned and led the rotation with another strong effort. The fastball pitcher is by far the most experienced player on an otherwise young pitching staff.

On the other side of the diamond third base man Josh Donaldson has emerged as an MVP caliber bat. He could definitely gather some votes behind Cabrera, Mike Trout and Chris Davis in the MVP voting this year.

During the regular season both teams met seven times with the Athletics taking the season series 4-3. Here are the pitching matchups for this series:

Game 1, O.co Coliseum, Oakland:

Bartolo Colon (18-6, 2.65 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90 ERA)

Max Scherzer has been really good this season, as shown by his statistics above. A pitcher with over twenty wins will always be considered to be a possible Cy Young Award winner, but all his other (and more important) stats also support his case. However, with all these wins. In two starts against Oakland he has two no decisions and has given up six runs in eleven innings. Colon on the other hand is 1-1 with four runs in twelve innings. The money line for this game: Oakland -112, Detroit -122.

Game 2, O.co Coliseum, Oakland:

Sonny Gray (5-3, 2.67 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.45 ERA)

At first sight this matchup looks like a wash. The great Justin Verlander versus a relatively unknown rookie pitcher. This, however, has not been Verlanders best season. Actually: it was his worst season since 2008 and while he is still an above average pitcher, he is no longer the ace he used to be. Het beat the A’s in a dominant start in April, but lost to them in late August. Gray has only started 10 Major League games in his career and has been up and down. He has not faced the Tigers strong lineup yet. Detroit is the favorite in this one.

Game 3, Comerica Park, Detroit:

Jarrod Parker (12-8, 3.97) vs. Anibal Sanchez (14-8, 2.57 ERA)

The first home game for the Tigers and a very favorable pitching matchup. Sanchez has been really good since joining Detroit midway through the 2012 season and Parker lost his only start tot the Tigers giving up eight runs in 3.1 innings. 

Game 4, Comerica Park, Detroit (if necessary):

Dan Straily (10-8, 3.96 ERA) vs. Doug Fister (14-9, 3.67 ERA)

Another youngster on the mound for Oakland. How will he fare under the pressure of the postseason and a very loud Comerica Park. Fister on the other hand has proven before to be able to handle this pressure very well. Edge: Tigers.

Game 5, O.co Coliseum, Oakland (if necessary):

Bartolo Colon (18-6, 2.65 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90 ERA)

If this series goes to a deciding Game 5 again, anything could happen. The home field advantage could push the Athletics over the line and help them reach the ALCS for the first time since 2006. 

The Tigers are clearly the better team offensively and have a great postseason rotation, but somehow the A’s have a certain aura around them. When they play in Oakland magic happens that you could compare to the late 90’s Yankees. They were very close last year and with a vulnerable Justin Verlander and their own ace on the mound, possibly twice in the series, the Athletics definitely have a shot at beating the Tigers.

Even though the odds are against them (+135) I believe they have a shot at beating the Tigers (-155) in 4 games.

Seb Visser is a former Dutch Major League Baseball player turned baseball writer. He tries to use the insights he gained in his playing days to increase the quality of his articles and help bettors better understand the game of baseball and increase their chance to win their bets.


Seb Visser

Seb Visser is a former Dutch Major League Baseball player turned baseball writer. He tries to use the insights he gained in his playing days to increase the quality of his articles and help bettors better understand the game of baseball and increase their chance to win their bets.

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