MLB

ALCS: Which team is this year's Giants?

Rosenthal: Tigers' storylines heading into ALCS
Rosenthal: Tigers' storylines heading into ALCS
Share This Story

Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

MORE>>
 
   
 

The way Justin Verlander is going, it’s almost as if the Tigers already lead the American League Championship Series, two games to none.

That’s not true, obviously. In fact, the Tigers hardly are assured of winning both of Verlander’s starts against the Rangers in Games 1 and 5 (if necessary).

The Rangers beat Verlander in his third start of the season, 2-0, even though he pitched a six-hit complete game. The Tigers, meanwhile, are 27-10 in Verlander’s starts this season, including the playoffs, not 36-0.

The myth of the hot pitcher is a powerful narrative — and a frightening prospect for any opponent. I’m succumbing to the myth, and my growing sense that the Tigers could be this year’s Giants. But I’ve got significant reservations about picking against the Rangers, who might be the best team in the American League.

The Yankees had the most wins, 97, and the highest run differential, plus-210, in the AL. The Rangers finished with 96 wins and a run differential of plus-178.

The Tigers?

They were next with 95 victories, but their plus-76 run differential was more like that of an 89-win team.

The postseason, of course, is different; teams effectively shrink their pitching staffs, especially in the first round. But the best-of-7s generally require managers to make fuller use of their rosters, and I’m not sure that’s a positive development for the Tigers.

Manager Jim Leyland hinted Friday that he would rely more on his left-handed relievers and specifically mentioned that two of his right-handed platoon players, second baseman/left fielder Ryan Raburn and third baseman Brandon Inge, would play more against the Rangers’ three left-handed starters than they did against the Yankees.

Much depends upon the status of left fielder Delmon Young, who suffered a mild left oblique strain in Game 5 of the Division Series. The Tigers made no announcement on Young’s status Friday, but as one rival GM asked, “How many out-of-shape players pull an oblique and play two days later?”

Without Young, the Tigers likely would go with Raburn in left and Santiago at second against the Rangers’ left-handers, getting weaker offensively and stronger defensively. But they likely would lose one of their hottest hitters, the left-handed hitting Don Kelly.

Raul Ibanez

SCREEN TIME

Hollywood is in love with America's pastime. See which movies about baseball hit a home run.

Here’s the thing, though: While the Tigers’ lineup, even with Young, isn’t all that deep, the Rangers’ starters averaged less than six innings per start against the Rays — a far weaker hitting club — in the Division Series.

And then there is this: The Rangers went 3-6 against the Tigers in the season series. Right-hander Alexi Ogando, who earned all three wins as a starter, will pitch out of the bullpen in this series.

Granted, the Rangers finished fifth in the AL in ERA, the Tigers seventh. The Rangers’ revamped bullpen — Ogando, plus in-season additions Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez — looks more potent. And whatever perceived rotation advantage the Tigers possess might be overstated. The Rangers generally hit good pitching.

Still, the Tigers/Giants comparison might not be far-fetched.

Start with the Verlander/Max Scherzer power combination in Games 1 and 2, which indeed bears a resemblance to Tim Lincecum/Matt Cain. The Tigers’ bullpen probably is not as strong as the Giants’ was; let’s see how their lefties, Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth, fare against the Rangers’ left-handed slugger, Josh Hamilton. But Leyland showed the same kind of knack with his lineup decisions in the Division Series that the Giants’ Bruce Bochy did last October.

The Tigers aren’t necessarily better than the Rangers, but I’ll put my faith in Verlander and to a lesser extent in Scherzer.

Tigers in 7.

Tagged: Tigers, Rangers, Giants, Delmon Young, Justin Verlander

More Stories From Ken Rosenthal

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



MLB Videos

Bautista talks Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Jose Bautista discusses Derek Jeter's career and his final appearance in the MLB...

Jeter honored to play in last All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Derek Jeter compares his first All-Star Game experience with his last, Mike Trou...

Matheny defends Wainwright: He's out there to compete Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Mike Matheny comments on the media's reaction to Adam Wainwright's joke about le...

SimLeague Baseball - Simulation Baseball Game

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Yankees/browse/featuredproduct/606363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_606000/ff_606363_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash
    Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/1064043/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1064000/ff_1064043_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067359/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067359_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room Pullover Hoodie - Steel http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067382/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067382_xl.jpg&w=100 54.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room 39THIRTY Flex Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067785/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067785_xl.jpg&w=100 31.95 New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Ro..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068294/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068294_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Bl..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice Performance Jersey - Black/Orange http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068787/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068787_xl.jpg&w=100 94.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice P..