(98-69, AL Central Winner)
(99-67, AL West Winner)
All of the talk about how the best teams in the American League were all in the AL East is all said and done with. Now, the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers are the only clubs left standing, and the two will battle it out in what should be a fantastic ALCS.
Pitching Edge: The decision to not use Justin Verlander in Game 5 against the New York Yankees out of the bullpen was crucial for the Tigers. Now, he can pitch in Game 1, Game 4, and Game 7 should Manager Jim Leyland elect to do that. Odds have it, he won't, but Verlander will certainly be out there for Game 1 and one of the middle games of this series. We give a lot of credit to Doug Fister and Max Scherzer, both of which pitched incredibly well for the most part against a potent New York lineup. Texas' pitching staff didn't do all that great in the first round, as none of the starters were truly ace material and the bullpen often struggled. However, we still have all the confidence in the world about the combo of Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams, Koji Uehara, and Neftali Feliz. CJ Wilson is going to get the nod for the Rangers in Game 1, but if he's the best that Manager Ron Washington has to offer, it could be a long series from that standpoint. The Detroit bullpen wasn't exactly sparkling against the Yanks either, but it was a reasonable unit. Give the very, very slight edge to Detroit from this standpoint. Advantage: Detroit
Lineup Edge: There just isn't a free out anywhere in this Texas lineup. 3B Adrian Beltre became the sixth player to ever homer three times in the same postseason game in the decisive Game 4 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays as a part of the four home run burst that the Rangers put together. Names like Mike Napoli, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Elvis Andrus... like we said, there just isn't a free out. We love what 1B Miguel Cabrera has done this season, and we know that he very well could win the league's MVP honors. However, when you really take a close look at this Texas lineup, this is really all that we are truly afraid of. The Rangers certainly have one of the best lineups in baseball, and definitely the best lineup in this series. Advantage: Texas
Series History: We might have talked down about these Tigers offensively, but they were good enough to win six of the nine games in this series this year. In that stretch, Detroit scored at least five runs five times, and at least eight runs twice. It was Texas that really struggled on offense, scoring four runs or fewer five times in nine games. For what it's worth, the one time that Verlander went against the Rangers this year, he allowed two runs in a complete game. Ironically, that was one of the three games that Texas won. We don't think that that will be the case this time around. Verlander should be a stud. Advantage: Detroit
Texas Rangers vs. Detroit Tigers ALDS Schedule
Game 1 (Saturday): Detroit Tigers (Justin Verlander) @ Texas Rangers (CJ Wilson)
Game 2 (Saturday): Detroit Tigers (Rick Porcello) @ Texas Rangers (Derek Holland)
Game 3 (Monday): Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis) @ Detroit Tigers (Doug Fister)
Game 4 (Tuesday): Texas Rangers (Matt Harrison) @ Detroit Tigers (Max Scherzer)
Game 5 (Wednesday): Texas Rangers (CJ Wilson) @ Detroit Tigers (Justin Verlander)
Game 6 (Saturday): Detroit Tigers (Rick Porcello) @ Texas Rangers (Derek Holland)
Game 6 (Saturday): Detroit Tigers (Doug Fister) @ Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis)
Texas Rangers vs. Detroit Tigers Pick: This is as tough of a call as there is in the playoffs. If we knew that Leyland was going to deploy Verlander three times in this series, we'd feel a lot better about backing the Tigers. That being said, the lineup for the Rangers is just too good, and just as the Rays found out, the pitching staff is good enough to get the job done, especially once the bats figure out how to hit the ball out of the park again like they did in Game 4 of the ALDS. Verlander might be worth two wins, but he's not worth four of them.
MLB Playoffs Pick: Texas Rangers in 7 Games