A Quick Look at the ALDS

I’m by no means qualified to speak intelligently on the 2011 MLB postseason, but then again, neither are most of the people who get on television and radio to do so, so here we go.

As a fan of the Detroit Tigers, I figured it was worth it to get excited for at least a short time here, before the hockey season officially starts and the Tigers are probably officially out.

Kudos to the Boston Red Sox for finishing the most beautiful collapse since my Tigers in 2009. And kudos to the Yankees for flying down to Tampa and getting swept, even when they had an accidental 7-0 lead in the eighth inning last night over the Rays. It took a lot of guts for Mark Teixeira to stand on second base Tuesday night while the ball was flying toward the wall with no outs, which led to him holding up at third on a double! The next hitter was intentionally walked, and the next guy grounded into a triple play! Way to run that out, Yanks. Then last night, there was not only that 7-0 lead in the 8th, but also a 2-out, 2-2 count on a nobody hitter with nobody on in the bottom of the 9th. Of course the guy blasts a laser over the right field wall to extend the game. He was so all over that pitch that it’s almost like he knew what was coming…

Either way, it was beautiful.

In other news, the Atlanta Braves blew a similar wild card lead to the St. Louis Cardinals. In news I’m more sure of, nobody cares. Side note: Atlanta led St. Louis by 8.5 games in September; Boston led Tampa Bay by 9 games in the final month.

Looking ahead to the ALDS, the Tigers drew the same opponent that they had en route to the ’06 World Series: the New York Yankees. Just like five years ago, the Tigers will be the road team after carrying yet another 95-67 record. Perhaps even more eerily, the Yankees  went 97-65 in both 2006 and 2011. Same franchises, same records, same result?

In ’06, the Tigers went into Yankee Stadium and gained an unforeseen split after Game 2 was postponed a day due to rain. The game was started by the soon-to-be-named rookie of the year, Justin Verlander. After recovering from a three-run homer by Johnny Damon, the Tigers never trailed the Yankees again. The two games at Comerica Park saw the home team win by a combined total of 14-3.

This time around, Curtis Granderson plays for the other team, and only Verlander remains from that rotation that calmly decimated the AL in ’06. But the opportunity is there again for the Tigers. Detroit’s plan is to throw Verlander – Doug Fister – Max Scherzer – Rick Porcello – Verlander. It’s conceivable that the Tigers could win both games in New York with those pitchers and that little league park for hitters like Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, but analysis isn’t the same once you assume two road wins to start a series.

If Detroit is able to start the series 2-1, then it will be able to go with its intended rotation. If, however, the Yankees lead the series 2-1 after three games, the Tigers would have the option of starting Verlander in Game 4 on three days rest, and follow up with Fister in Game 5 on normal rest. I would contend that if Fister shows stones at Yankee ballpark in Game 2, then Detroit should probably do this condensed rotation even if it leads two games to one. Why go Porcello – Verlander when you can go Verlander – Fister, especially the way Fister has been pitching since the Tigers acquired him?

The series could go either way, but I’m optimistic. Game 1 is Friday night, with Game 2 the following day. Sunday is a scheduled travel day, to make room for our fantasy hockey draft.

The other ALDS is Tampa Bay at Texas. I don’t have a lot to say on this one, except that Tampa Bay is a tougher team to play than Boston with the differences in starting pitching. While Boston couldn’t get an out and had to roll out John Lackey every fifth day, the Rays have a stable of good starters. James Shields will throw the first game on Friday, but after that it’s in question due to the Rays having to go all out to get into the playoffs. They have David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, and Jeff Niemann to choose from.

*** I’m now reading that it will be Niemann that throws Game 1, and not Shields. ***

Texas isn’t bad themselves, but the tendency is to assume that a team that lost Cliff Lee can’t be as good as it was when it had him. That could be a faulty assumption. Additionally, the Rangers get the luxury of being at home in this series.

That meant nothing last season though, as these teams played the only watchable division series of the four, and even that meant there were five games of baseball decided by three or more runs. All five stinkers were won by the road team. If that happens again, Tampa Bay will move on.

I’m not going to break down the National League, because quite frankly, I don’t give a shit. Philadelphia should handle St. Louis before it gets to a fifth game, and the Arizona – Milwaukee matchup could go either way.

Most people will pick Milwaukee either because they’re at home or because they have more players that anyone has heard of (which is probably three or four), but I think the D’backs might pull something here. I expect Ian Kennedy (21-4) to win Game 1, and then it’ll be interesting to see that Brewers crowd get desperate and scared. They know Prince Fielder is walking away for free in the offseason, so a first-round loss might put them in the asylum. But then again, this is baseball. This series will probably go the distance.


– Tampa Bay over Texas in 5 games
– Detroit over New York in 4 games
– Philadelphia over St. Louis in 4 games
– Arizona over Milwaukee in 5 games

Isn’t this a nice little distraction for the final week without real NHL hockey?

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