Archive for October, 2006


Tigers Set ALCS Rotation

It looks like Jim Leyland isn’t going to mess with what worked in the ALDS.  It’ll be Nate Robertson and Justin Verlander throwing in Oakland and then Kenny Rogers and Jeremy Bonderman will throw games three and four.  If the series goes to seven, the only pitcher who won’t throw twice will be Jeremy Bonderman.



A Look at the Athletics

Alright, the ALCS starts up tomorrow and it’s still kind of surreal that the TIGERS ARE STILL IN THE PLAYOFFS.  They’re in the final four.  Rather then rehash what I said about the Tigers in my ALDS preview, I’ll take at look at what the A’s have done this season.  And in case you missed it, these two teams have a small amount of playoff history.  I highlighted that in yesterday’s post.

One of the best places I like to go to analyze a team is the Hardball Times team stats page.  The first thing that sticks out was that the A’s outperformed their projected (pythagorean) win total by eight games.  That was the most in the MLB.  Some of that might be attributable to their solid record in close games (they won 47 games by two runs or less, tops in the majors), which is a testament to their bullpen.  In fact, Texas actually outperformed the A’s as far as projected wins.  They outscored their opponents by 51 runs while the A’s outscored theirs by 44.  The Tigers projected wins were tied with the Yankees at 96 and that was the best in the majors.

The A’s scored only 4.76 runs per game.  That was well below the league average of 4.97 and it wasn’t too far ahead of the Kansas City Royals at 4.67.  Their OBP was right around the league average (.340 vs. .342 in the AL, Beane still likes his walks) but the team’s .412 slugging percentage was just ahead of Royals, who were last in the American League.  Even the worst team in baseball, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, had a higher slugging percentage (.420). 

The A’s pitching was very good though.  Their ERA was a solid 4.21, but their Fielding Independant ERA was only 4.44, not too far from the Tigers mark of 4.36.  The team’s strikeout rate, walk rate and homerun rate were right at the league average and were nearly identical to the Tigers.  And the A’s left on base percentage of 73% was just behind the league leading Tigers of 74%.

As far as fielding, the A’s are pretty average.  Their +/- came in right at zero, where as the Tigers led the AL with a +60.  So while the A’s arms are just as good as the Tigers based on FIP, the Tigers have the defense behind them to help out those pitchers.

So, you should some great pitching in this series.  This should equate to some low scoring games and a lot of excitement, but these things never seem to work out exactly as planned, so we’ll see.  I’ll stand by my earlier prediction and say Tigers in seven although I messed up the games Rogers will win.  It’ll be games three and game seven.



Division Series Thoughts

Alright, three division series are in the books, and so far, I’m three for three as far as picking the correct team but none of my picks outside of the Tigers were really that out of line.  Here are a few things I’ve been thinking about the past couple of days.

First, one final thing on the Tigers/Yankees.  This was a really good Yankee team and the Tigers just rolled right through them.  Had it not been for a rough outing by Nate Robertson, it could have been over earlier.  And if you take away that three run shot by Johnny Damon in game two (the only three Yankees runs), you would have a scoreless streak 24 innings over three games.  Still, I’m really surprised how easily the Tigers appeared to take care of a very formbidable Yankee team.

While I enjoyed the celebration after the game, people (including the team) have to keep in mind that this is just the first chapter.  It always bothers me for some reason when a team has a premature celebration, almost like they’re happy just to be there.  Had the Yankees won this series, would they be celebrating the series win?  I’m thinking not.  Then again, I didn’t see how this was handled in the other series that have wrapped so maybe it’s more common then I thought.  Yes, I know it’s the Tigers first playoff series win since 1984, but they still face an uphill climb to win what really matters.

The Mets and the A’s finished both of their series up pretty handily.  The first two games at the Metrodome were pretty close but once it got out to Oakland, the A’s rolled right through them in the clincher.  The Mets held off a comeback in game one but then handled the Dodgers pretty easily in the final two games.  If the Cards don’t win tonight, they’re in trouble because they have their best chance of winning with Carpenter on the mound and at home.

It looks like it’ll be Barry Zito against Nate Roberston is game one.  I would have liked to see Leyland push Robertson back to game three with Justin Verlander and Kenny Rogers throwing the first two in Oakland.  Kenny Rogers is 23-4 with a 3.39 and a 1.36 WHIP in 294 1/3 innings at the Oakland Colliseum.  If he starts in game two, he’d get potentially two starts in Oakland if the series went to six games.

The Tigers have only faced four different American League teams in the playoffs.  Since the inception of a playoff system, the Tigers have only made it in four seasons.  They’ve beaten the Royals (1984) and Yankees (2006) and lost to the Athletics (1972) and Twins (1987).  That best of five series against the A’s was a good one.  You had a shutout on each side and the Tigers came back from a 2-0 deficit to tie it at two games a piece.  Game five was a 2-1 pitchers dual in which that year’s Cy Young winner, Vida Blue, came into the game to throw four innings of shutout ball to close out the game in relief of Blue Moon Odom.  This season was kind of the last hurrah of the 1968 team, as guys like Mickey Lolich, Al Kaline, Norm Cash and Bill Freehan were finishing out their careers.

All of the ALCS games played during the week are at 8 pm, so I’ll get to watch all of the games.  This is a good thing.

RIP Buck O’Neil.  He was definitley one of the ambassadors of the Negro Leagues.



Moving On

The Tigers are heading to Oakland.  After blowing out the Yankees to lock up their first post season series victory since they won the 1984 World Series, the Tigers now go up against the Oakland A’s in the ALCS.

Once again, I did a write up for this over at the Hardball Times and it should be up tomorrow morning.

This will be nice.  I’ll get to go to bed at a decent time tomorrow night.  And I’ll have a preview up probably Monday night to lead into the next Tigers series.



Tigers Win Critical Game Three, Bonderman Could Wrap Up Series Tomorrow

Alright, this was definitely a nice win.  I wrote it up over at the Hardball Times and it should show up there by tomorrow morning so check it out.   I took a lot of heat for predicting the Tigers to win this series and while I know it’s far from over, a shot at the A’s seems more realistic then it did after that game one loss.

The game’s at 4:30 tomorrow.  Bonderman vs. Jaret Wright.  I like our chances in this one.



Tigers Come From Behind to Even Up Series With Yankees

This was probably the most important Tiger game in over twenty years and I missed it because I had to be at work.  Oh well, I’d rather they win without me watching then the alternative.

I really thought that when Curtis Granderson was stranded at third in the seventh, it would come back to haunt us.  Both he and Marcus Thames had really good games and they led the way on offense.

Wow, that was great relief pitching.  I’m sure everyone got nervous when Hidecki Matsui singled off of Todd Jones in the ninth but between Jones, Jamie Walker and Joel Zumaya, we got about as good of reliefing pitching at you can ask.  Justin Verlander wasn’t chopped liver either.  He did get into some jams and he did give up the three run shot to Johnny Damon, but he held up, gave the Tigers five plus solid innings and didn’t lose it for us.

Tomorrow will have an ailing Randy Johnson going up against Kenny Rogers.  Big, big swing game.  It’s an 8 pm start so I’ll get to watch this one.



Rain Outs and 100,000

The Tigers/Yankees game was rained out and while it was nice to get some sleep, I wasn’t happy when I noticed today’s game is at 1 pm.  Unfortunately I’ll be stuck at work with only Yahoo updates to keep me informed as to what’s happening.

Sometime later this morning I’m going to get my 100,000 visitor to Tigerblog.  I know sitemeter isn’t entirely accurate and there have been times where the tracker has been down, but this is all I really have to go by.  I also know while this isn’t a huge deal in the grand scheme of things (100,000 is a good week for the Hardball TImes), it’s pretty cool to me.  I appreciate everyone who stops by.



Tigers Drop Game One in Blow Out Loss to Yankees

The Tigers got doubled up last night and it wasn’t pretty.  The Yankees did most of their damage in a five run third inning that made it 5-0 and while the Tigers made it close at one point (5-3), they never fully recovered.

I’m not sure what Leyland was trying to do in the second inning when he tried a hit and run with Ordonez on second and Guillen on first with nobody out.  Yeah, Pudge is a .300 hitter but when neither team has scored, you’d think Leyland would play the percentages and try for an early lead by standing pat.  Instead, Ordonez gets gunned down at third and the Tigers get nothing out of the inning.  Placido Polanco’s double play in the third also cost them a potential run.  Now I’m not saying the Tigers win if they convert in either or both of those innings, but things might have played out differently had the Tigers taken an early lead.

Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu chewed us up.  Abreu drove in four runs and Jeter had five hits and he scored three times.  If those two guys are clicking in the two and three spot in the lineup, this is going to be a very tough team to beat.  Then again, we all knew that anyway.

Game two is tonight and it’ll be Justin Verlander going up against Mike Mussina.  This is pretty much a must win game tonight so hopefully the Tigers can get the job done.



ALDS Game One – Tigers vs. Yankees Game Thread

I’ll be watching the game while doing a few things tonight so I’ll be popping in on The Score Boards game thread now and then and commenting on what’s going on.  Stop by and say hello.



2006 Playoff Predictions

Man, I love the playoffs.  Each game seems to be a nail biter and with the Tigers making the post season this year, it’s that much sweeter.  Who’s coming out on top in the 2006 World Series?  I’m not sure but I definitely have my opinion.

ALDS

Tigers vs. Yankees – Tigers in Five – You can check out both my series preview over at the Hardball Times and my comments in the AL Series Previews over at Baseball Anaylsts.

Twins vs. A’s – A’s in Four -  The Twins win game one with Johan on the mound but lose the next three to face the Tigers in the ALCS.

NLDS

Mets vs. Dodgers – Mets in Four - The Mets have been comfortably in first place for most of the season while the Dodgers have been fighting for their playoff lives for the stretch run.  Even without Pedro, I think the Mets offense will get things going and take this one in four games.

Padres vs. Cardinals – Padres in Three – I think the Padres pitching will carry them in this one.  Jake Peavy will have the best start of any pitcher in the division series and help carry the Padres to the only sweep of the playoffs.

ALCS

Tigers vs. A’s – Tigers in Seven – Kenny Rogers wins games two and seven to help carry the Tigers to their first World Series since 1984.

NLCS

Mets vs. Padres – Mets in Six – The Mets pitching costs them a couple of games but they do just enough to win some ugly games to pull this one out.  Carlos Delgado leads the way on offense and he walks away with the NLCS MVP.

World Series

Tigers vs. Mets – At the beginning of the year, I predicted the Yankees and the Mets would square off in the World Series and I’m half right.  The Tigers and Mets play a back and forth series comporable to 1986 but this time, the Mets don’t have Billy Buckner to bail them out.  Tigers in seven.

Wishful thinking?  Let’s hope not.  Let the playoffs begin.  I’ll have a playoff chat thread up later and I’ll actually be here for the game so I’ll be able to talk about the game.



Tigers Start Playoffs at Yankee Stadium After Five Game Skid

I went to two games this week.  One was Wednesday, which marked the beginning of the Tigers slide towards the Wild Card.  I also went to today’s extra inning extraveganza that marked the Royals (yes, those Royals) six run come from behind win that sent the Tigers packing to New York instead of hosting the A’s in the first round of the playoffs.  It turns out that all the Tigers needed to do was win one of the last five games and they couldn’t do it despite having three games against the second worst team in baseball.  Yeah, that’s right.  The Tampa Devil Rays lost one more game then the Royals while Kansas City was busy sweeping us.

There is one good thing that comes out of the Tigers playing the Yankees in the first round.  When you check the schedule, the Twins and A’s have two 1 pm games and then a 4 pm on Friday.  That would have been the Tigers had they pulled out the game today.  Instead, they get the Yankees and all of their games are on primetime this week.  So for someone who has to work and deal with quarter end, it makes me happy that I’ll least get to see the Tigers play in the playoffs, win or lose.

I think today’s game was one of the longest I’ve ever been too, and it was warm and sunny so by the end of the game, we were all beat.  My two year old son was a trooper and even held up to run the bases.  I could run through the ways the Tigers could have won this game, but we’d be here for a while because they blew a ton of chances.  I knew it was over when Neifi Perez came in to pinch hit for Matt Stairs in that twelth and final inning.

We already know who the Yankees are throwing out in game one and it’s Chien Ming Wang.  If I had to guess, I’d say Justin Verlander was going to throw for the Tigers.  Kenny Rogers might because he only threw two innings today, but I guess we’ll see. 

There’s no Sunday night game so it looks like the regular season is done.  Let the playoffs begin.  I’ll do my playoff predictions either Monday night or Tuesday morning and I have yet to decide whether I’ll go with my heart or my head.

***UPDATE***

I just heard on Baseball Tonight that Nate Robertson will get the game one start.  Interesting.  Bonderman won’t be ready until at least Friday although I’d expect him to go Saturday.  That means Verlander will probably throw in game two and Rogers will go in game three.  Then again, what do I know.



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