Well, the playoffs are finally set.. The Rangers won six straight to match the Tigers four straight wins down the stretch and they get home field so the Tigers get the Yankees in the first round beginning Friday. The Rays completed their incredible comeback and they’ll face the Rangers in the first round Friday afternoon. If you’re a half glass full kind of guy, I’d say facing the Yankees isn’t a horrible thing because I think the Tigers match up better against the Yankees in the shorter series then they might in a seven game series.
The Yankees finished with the best record in the American League in the best division in baseball and that’s no small task. While they’re starting pitching once you get past CC Sabathia is a little spotty (I’m still not sold on Ivan Nova), they have some very solid middle relief and of course the top of the line offense. Game one is going to be pretty important with Verlander on the mound. For those of you who want to continue with the Doug Fister/Doyle Alexander comparisons, Alexander was horrible come playoff time in 1987 but Fister pitched pretty well in Yankee Stadium in one his start against them this year.
In looking at the pitching matchups, I think the Tigers have a slight edge in each of them but the Yankees make up for it at the plate. While it’s easy to look at the fact that the Yankees had the second best offense (runs scored) and the Tigers the fourth, there were 80 runs between the two of them. Only the Red Sox scored more runs then the Yankees did.
Game one, while big in a lot of five game series, is going to be extra important in this series. Whichever ace can win will get their team sitting pretty. And we’ll see if Jim Leyland sticks with his “no Verlander on three days rest” if the Tigers backs are against the wall. I still think one of his big mistakes in 2006 was not pitching Kenny Rogers over Nate Robertson in game five of the World Series that year (and that wasn’t even a rest issue because they had the rain out).
I’m going to go with he happy prediction. Tigers take game one and two at Yankee Stadium, Yankees survive by taking game three and then the Tigers wrap it up in four a la 2006. I’d be interested to see who outside of Detroit makes a similar prediction though. Now I just have to work on getting my Tiger playoff tickets.