The Tigers kickoff the 2011 ALCS tonight against the Texas Rangers. While Detroit won six out of nine games against the Rangers this year, this matchup has the makings of a seven game series. Both teams have a goies od offense, both teams have good pitching. The key for the Tigers will be starting pitching. Detroit was able to shut down the powerful Yankees lineup with solid starting pitching, and they will need to do the same if they hope to advance to the World Series. Everyone expects Verlander to perform, but the Tigers will need Fister and Scherzer to pitch like they did against the Yankees. In addition to pitching, Detroit will need to see more offense from Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. The 4-5 hitters led the Tigers offense all season long, but were quiet in the ALDS. It has already been announced that Delmon Young will be left off the roster (replaced by Danny Worth), so the Tigers will need to see some offense from other spots in the lineup. If the starting pitching is solid and Cabrera and Martinez come through, Detroit will be tough to beat.
Prediction: Tigers win in 6 games.
Following 5-3 Tigers victory in Game 2, all eyes turn to Verlander in Game 3. JV has had the most impressive season of his career, and has had great success in high-profile games. Without question, tonight’s game in Detroit will be the most important game of the season. In order for the Tigers to win, Verlander will have to find his rhythm early and avoid 3-1 and 3-2 counts. The Yankees are patient, professional hitters who love to foul off pitches and drive the opposing pitchers pitch count up. With Benoit and Valverde throwing over twenty pitches in last night’s game, it will be important for Verlander to pitch deep into the game. If Verlander pitches the way he has all year long, Detroit will enter Game 4 with a chance to clinch the series.
Opposite of Verlander will be Cy Young co-candidate (in New York’s eyes only) C.C. Sabathia. While many baseball analysts are touting Sabathia’s two innings of work, he wasn’t as strong as he looked. Sabathia racked up four strikeouts in those two innings, but two of the four took place during a torrential downpour, making it nearly impossible for hitters to have a quality at-bat. Look for Sabathia to struggle in a hostile Comerica Park against the dangerous Tigers lineup.