Series 6 Pack: ALCS Edition


Despite the disheartening feelings of no October baseball in Boston, the postseason does progress forward.  Both the Yankees and Rays are out, leaving the AL East with no ALCS appearances, let alone a World Series mention.

With the final two teams set for to begin the ALCS on Saturday night, I thought it might worth looking into the series a little deeper.  Throw in the fact that I’m going through Series 6 Pack withdrawal and I took this opportunity to preview the Tigers and Rangers matchup.  What better way to do it than to ask a Tiger’s fan/writer about his take on the series.  With that, after the jump is the Series 6 Pack, ALCS edition.

A huge thank-you to Garret from Motor City Bengals for answering the 6 pack and giving his thoughts and opinions on the Championship Series.

1. How much will home field advantage be a factor in this series?
Not much. The Tigers have already endured the most hostile environment in three games at Yankee Stadium. They won two of those games. The key here will be Max Scherzer. He had a 5.23 ERA on the road this year, compared to 3.80 at home. This was a great concern for Tiger fans in round one, but he pitched very well (six innings, no runs, two hits, four walks, and five strikeouts) in his game two start Sunday in New York, then came on in relief and got a critical hold in game five.  He’s lineup up to start game two of the ALCS in Texas, and theoretically, he would start a potential game six there as well.
2. If this series goes 7 games, do we see verlander three times, the last being on short rest?
I doubt it. Jim Leyland is very protective of his arms, especially that of Justin Verlander. If Verlander pitches in game five, October 13th, he would have just two full rest days before game seven, and
he’s NEVER pitched on short rest (even three days) in his career (the lone exception would be last week, when he pitched an inning in the game one rain-out then started three days later). The Tigers trust
Doug Fister to start that game, and rightfully so. There is speculation that, in the unlikely situation that his services would be required in a winner-take-all match-up, Verlander could be available out of the bullpen. Obviously, this is not ideal. It’s a safe bet that we’ll see him just twice, in his two starts.
3. Quite often as we saw in the ALDS, a manager can sometimes overmanage in a spot or not make the right move or call when needed.  That being said, how confident are you with Jim Leyland making those
right decisions? Is he the better manager than Washington?
Jim Leyland has fallen under a lot of criticism over the course of the 2011 season, and I’ve thrown in my fair share of skepticism along the way. That said, Leyland has really earned a lot of respect as of late.
It seems like August was the last time a critical decision blew up in his face. Heck, he can start Don Kelly, Brandon Inge, Ramon Santiago, or anyone else, and it seems there’s always a good chance it’ll work
out. He keeps a cool head, and isn’t affected by the pressure of a big stage; he swiftly ended any thoughts that Verlander would come out of the bullpen on short rest in game five, and his haters were proved wrong again. Honestly, I would have a tough time picking who, out of Leyland and Ron Washington, is a better manager. I know both managers have a relatively conventional style, but Washington may be the more aggressive of the pair. They each have to deal with a lot of moving
parts and I have great respect for both.

4. What do the Tigers pitchers need to do to shut down this potent Raners offense?
This year, Verlander, Scherzer, Fister, and Rick Porcello went 3-2 with a 3.47 ERA against Texas. Those are some impressive numbers. In my mind, there are two keys for Detroit’s pitching if they want to keep Texas from putting big numbers on the board. The first is to limit the running game. The best way to handle this would be to keep Ian Kinsler, who had the best stolen base percentage (88.2%) in the American League this year, off the bases. This will take some pressure of when the heart of the order comes up, and, consequently, make the second key easier: get Adrian Beltre out. This one’s pretty simple.  Beltre started the postseason off slow, but in the Rangers’ last game against the Rays, he clubbed three home runs. He also went 8-for-21 (.381) against Tiger pitching this year. For the record, Kinsler was 7-for-31 (.226) against Detroit.
5. Aside from pitching, what are the keys to the Tigers winning?
The Tigers offense, in the division series, was led by Magglio Ordonez, Brandon Inge, Ryan Raburn, Don Kelly, and Delmon Young, who combined to go 20-for-53 (.377). Only Delmon Young, of those five, was
expected to play every day, and now his health status is questionable.  The rest of the Tigers’ hitters, including Miguel Cabrera, Victor  Martinez, Jhonny Peralta, and Alex Avila, went 16-for-105 (.152).  Fringe players are leading the Tigers offensively, and they can’t expect that to continue. The heart of the order needs to step up.
6. Your prediction on the series?
I’m going to go with the Tigers in five. Maybe it’s a homer prediction. I say it will take just five games not because Detroit, as a whole, is that much better than Texas. It’s mainly because Verlander will pitch two of those games and I like Fister in his match-up at home against Colby Lewis. That leaves one win, and there’s a good chance that it will come in Porcello’s start in game four. Matt Harrison will throw in that game for the Rangers, and current Tigers are 34-for- 88 (.386) against the lefty.

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