Tag:Tigers-Rangers
Posted on: October 9, 2011 2:28 am
 

Short Verlander start throws Game 4 into question

Verlander

By Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Two rain delays derailed Justin Verlander's start in Game 1, thereby limiting him to just 4 2/3 innings. After tossing just 82 pitches, the question naturally springs to mind: Will Verlander come back to start Game 4? Such a decision could have enormous ramifications on the series, as Verlander pitching in Game 4 would allow him to appear in Game 7, possibly as a starter and certainly as a reliever.

"We're going to go down and look at it," manager Jim Leyland said after the game. "We started to map a couple of things out during the one rain delay, but we don't have anything for you at this time.

"We're not trying to hide anything. We just haven't figured it all out."

Leyland fielded multiple questions on the topic, and started to get irritated on the third question.

"I'm trying to be patient. ... You can talk to me until you're blue in the face about the rotation. I don't have anything for you."

Leyland may not have anything, but the move to start Verlander should be obvious, especially after Porcello tossed 22 pitches in relief of Verlander. While the 22-year-old Porcello has a ton of promise and debuted at age 20 just two years after being picked in the first round, Verlander is clearly the better pitcher at this stage. He should be able to go on three days rest. How can the Tigers not make this move?

While Verlander may have been able to come out of the bullpen regardless in a potential Game 7 should he stay on track to start Game 5, giving Verlander the Game 4 assignment allows the team so much flexibility in Game 7. Maybe Verlander starts, maybe Max Scherzer (drawing the ball in Game 2) still starts and Verlander comes in relief for a few innings. And heck, Verlander drawing the ball in Game 4 would allow the club to go to a three-man rotation, eschewing Porcello and giving Scherzer the Game 5 or 6 start.

Either way, it's never a bad thing to have your best pitcher available in the final, winner-take-all, game.

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Posted on: October 9, 2011 2:12 am
Edited on: October 10, 2011 1:43 pm
 

ALCS Game 2: Tigers look to even series up

Scherzer, Holland

By Evan Brunell

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tigers at Rangers, 4:19 p.m. ET, October 10, Rangers Ballpark

WHO HAS THE EDGE?


Yeah, Texas won Game 1, but the Tigers still have a thin edge in Game 2. Why?

The Tigers constantly threatened to break the game wide open each of the first several innings, but could never get that big hit. Texas was able to smack Justin Verlander around enough that even if there was no rain delay, the right-hander was probably coming out of the game after five or six innings anyways, having allowed seven baserunners. All told, Detroit reached base 13 times compared to Texas' nine, which includes an error by Austin Jackson.

Then add in the pitching matchup, which you can learn more about below. Both Max Scherzer and Derek Holland are pitchers long on potential that have experienced some difficulty putting it all together. Each pitcher's respective performances in the ALDS was strong, and Holland rebounded after a shaky beginning to Game 2, but Scherzer came away more impressive in the end.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Tigers' Max Scherzer: Going on three days rest after hurling 1 1/3 innings of one-run relief against the Yankees, Scherzer has taken to the playoffs beautifully and also blanked the Yankees for six innings in Game 2. The righty originally was supposed to start Game 4, but that would have limited him to just one start, and the team could have really used him for two. Now they get that chance.

"He convinced me yesterday. And Max, he's up front with everything. He would never mislead me in any way, shape and form," Jim Leyland said prior to Game 1 of the ALCS, being convinced in due part to Scherzer playing catch on Friday and feeling 100 percent."He's raring and ready to go."

Scherzer's posted a 4.09 ERA since the All-Star break, but that doesn't do justice to how good he's been since mid-July. He punched out 78 and walked just 18 in 82 2/3 post-break innings, with a fielding-independent ERA in the low 3.00s showing just how good he's been. He made three starts against the Rangers in 2011, posting a 4.76 ERA in 17 innings, striking out 12 and walking four, with the team winning two games.

"Scherzer, what an arm," Rangers manager Ron Washington raved.. It's unorthodox, doesn't throw anything straight, and for some reason when he faces us, he finds the strike zone with more consistency with all his pitches."

Much like his opponent Monday, Scherzer has struggled with consistency in his command. "It's been a challenge this whole year of constantly making adjustments throughout mechanically with each pitch and how I want to execute it throughout the whole year," the pitcher said. I felt like the last five starts, the way of my stuff and the way of my mechanics, I felt in a good position."

Rangers' Derek Holland: Holland has been tantalizing many with his potential for quite some time, and he's finally starting to deliver on his promise. As Washington put it prior to Game 1 of the ALCS, "Right now he's not a total thoroughbred. He's just a little pony, but he'll develop into a thoroughbred."

Holland has had to battle inconsistency in the past with both command and jitters, He had a forgettable 2010 postseason thanks to that, posting a 4.76 ERA in 11 1/3 innings, but so far this postseason has been an impact lefty. He scuffled in the first inning of Game 2 of the ALDS against the Rays, but pulled it together to go five innings, giving up three runs, two unearned. He also appeared in relief in Game 5, blanking Tampa for 1 1/3 innings.

"Last year, I didn't really know what to expect, how to handle anything," Holland said before Game 1. I have a better idea, especially after being around with [Cliff Lee] and then C.J. [Wilson] has been helping me big time this year in how to handle myself as a starter. This year it's a big difference. I'm a lot more relaxed and I would say composed."

Holland has only started once against the Tigers, coming last season when he held Detroit to one run in four innings, knocked out with a rising pitch count due to walking two and striking out five. Delmon Young had the best success for Detroit against Holland, facing him twice while with Minnesota and collecting six hits in 12 at-bats. Unfortunately, Young isn't on the roster. Wilson Betemit and Victor Martinez are the only active Tigers who have a hit off Holland.

LINEUPS


Tigers Rangers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Austin Jackson CF 1 Ian Kinsler 2B
2 Ramon Santiago SS 2 Elvis Andrus SS
3 Delmon Young LF 3 Josh Hamilton CF
4 Miguel Cabrera 1B 4 Michael Young DH
5 Victor Martinez DH 5 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Ryan Raburn RF 6 Mike Napoli C
7 Jhonny Peralta SS 7 Nelson Cruz RF
8 Alex Avila C 8 David Murphy LF
9 Brandon Inge 3B 9 Mitch Moreland 1B

Max Scherzer RHP
Derek Holland LHP

NOTES
  • Unlike the NLCS, there's no rancor between the teams involved in the ALCS. During Jim Leyland's press conference, he went on and on about how amazing Ron Washington has been in Texas and said that they are not enemies, just friends managing against each other. Meanwhile, both teams fraternized during BP with smiles on everyone's face. Miguel Cabrera was a popular man and could be sighted laughing uproariously with Washington.
  • Nelson Cruz's home run snapped a 1-for-16 skid in the postseason following a brutal September. It was a special homer for him too, as it's his seventh postseason homer (in just two seasons). That's the most in Rangers franchise history, breaking a tie with Juan Gonzalez.
  • The winning team in Game 1 of the ALCS has won the series 24 of 41 times, or 59 percent. That number dips to 52 percent when you limit it to only when the ALCS shifted to a best-of-seven since 1985. However, seven of the last 11 ALCS have been won by the Game 1 losing team.

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Posted on: October 9, 2011 2:04 am
Edited on: October 9, 2011 3:09 am
 

Nelson Cruz homer sets postseason team record

Nelson Cruz

By Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- WIth one swing of the bat, Nelson Cruz made history.

In the fourth inning, Cruz took a Justin Verlander changeup deep into the night, giving Texas the margin of victory needed to win Game 1, 3-2. 

It also happened to be the homer that gave Cruz the franchise lead in postseason home runs, breaking a tie with Juan Gonzalez after smashing six home runs in the Rangers' run to the AL pennant last season. He registered surprise at the feat, not realizing what he had done.

"This is nice, you know," Cruz told CBSSports.com. "Here we don't worry about records, we worry about wins. That's the important thing. But you take it one at bat at a time and, hopefully, you get good results."

Cruz's homer came on a 2-0 fastball down the middle. While one might have thought Cruz was sitting dead-red for a fastball, he was paying attention earlier in the game.

"One of the at-bats, I don't remember [who it was], 2-0, [Verlander] threw a change-up. It was a change-up. I was trying to be aggressive," Cruz said after the game. "First at-bat he threw me some pitches out of the strike zone. So I told myself just to be patient and wait for the right pitch to hit.

Cruz had previously been 1-for-16 in the playoffs, as well as ending the season on a forgettable note with a .190/.205/.286 line after missing the first half of September with a strained hamstring. Throughout the ALDS, Cruz and manager Ron Washington maintained that it was only a matter of time before Cruz got his stroke back, as he was yielding positive results in batting practice.

"Defintely the last few games, I feel like I swung the bat well," Cruz said. "I was lucky enough -- but the situation, playoffs, you don't care about what you do. You want the results."

Despite the slump Cruz entiered the game in, he extended his LCS hitting streak to seven games, as well as notching an extra-base hit in each of the last four contests, with home runs in three of the games. After a poor offensive display against the Rays, Texas really needed Cruz to come through against Verlander for the Rangers to have any hope of winning the game. And he did.

"We certainly needed what he gave us tonight," Washington said. "We needed that big home run off of Verlander."

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Posted on: October 9, 2011 1:03 am
Edited on: October 9, 2011 2:17 am
 

Rain affects outcome of ALCS Game 1, Rangers win

Rain

By Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers won Game 1 of the ALCS, 3-2.

Hero: With C.J. Wilson bounced after 4 2/3 innings, Texas needed someone to step up and bridge the team to the eighth inning. It found its man in Alexi Ogando, the former starter who was sent to the bullpen for the postseason due to running out of gas in his first year as a starter. Ogando dazzled, punching out three batters in two innings and allowing just one baserunner on a walk. Detroit had been threatening to break through up until Ogando's performance, and went meekly after that.

Goat:
The rain. Rain forced a delay not once, but twice in the fifth inning. All told, delays chewed up an hour and 50 minutes, with play in between lasting just 13 innings. It derailed the outings of Justin Verlander and C.J. Wilson, although now it's possible Verlander could move up from a Game 5 start to Game 4, making him available for a potential Game 7, albeit likely in relief. The game didn't end until just after 1 a.m. ET, and more rain is in the forecast for Saturday which could actually threaten the playing of the entire game.

Turning point: The Tigers had a golden opportunity coming off of the second rain delay, returning with the bases loaded. The rain had knocked C.J. Wilson out of the game, who had been dealing before loading said bases. Rangers manager Ron Washington ordered an intentional walk to Magglio Ordonez to set Wilson up to face left-handed hitter Alex Avila, but plans changed with the delay. Texas was forced to burn a reliever in Mike Gonzalez to keep the lefty-on-lefty matchup intact. Avila wasted no time in grounding out to the second baseman on the first pitch, and there went the Tigers' best chance to alter the game.

It was over when ... Well, it was a one-run game, so it wasn't really over until the last pitch, right? That was a fastball thrown by Neftali Feliz to Ryan Raburn with a runner on first, giving Texas a 1-0 series lead in the ALCS. Raburn was in the lineup due to the injury to Delmon Young suffered in the ALDS that has knocked Young out for the entirety of the ALCS.

Next: The Tigers and Rangers will play Game 2 at 7:45 p.m. ET, but it's possible that it doesn't even finish. More imposing rain is in the forecast for Saturday night, and we could very well be looking at a postponement and force the game's completion on Monday, scrubbing a travel day.

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Posted on: October 8, 2011 10:08 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 2:17 am
 

Rain delay, Verlander struggles affect Game 1

Verlander

By Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rain has become a staple of the postseason lately, with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay's World Series in 2008 affected by it, as well as the Yankees-Tigers ALDS earlier this year. And now, the ALCS has been affected as Game 1 just experienced a rain delay, and it may not be the last. Rain had been drizzling off and on for much of the game but all of a sudden the jets came on for a downpour and play was quickly stopped. The tarp came off just 20 minutes later, and play is expected to resume at 10:20 ET, but there is significant rain on the way expected to last until 12 a.m. ET, so this could be a long game. With more serious rain on the way Saturday, MLB's Joe Torre said that "this game will be played."

In the early going, the story has been Justin Verlander coughing up three runs, including two in the second. David Murphy tripled Mike Napoli in, with Ian Kinsler later singling Murphy in. But the biggest blast came in the bottom fourth, when Nelson Cruz reversed his playoff fortunes by launching a ball into left-center field. Prior to the homer, Cruz had been just 1-for-16 in the postseason, and also finished September with a .190/.205/.286 skid after beginning the month on the DL with a left hamstring strain.

Skipper Ron Washington did say during the ALDS that he felt Cruz was on the verge of breaking out, liking the swings he was taking in batting practice. Well, he proved right, but more astounding is the tough time Verlander has had. Through four innings, Verlander has tossed 82 pitches, 49 for strikes. It looks like as he's been getting squeezed pretty hard by home-plate ump Tim Welke, as the below pitch F/X plot bears out. By this zone, nine pitches were called balls that should have been strikes, and another four are close enough that being called a strike wouldn't cause anyone to blink.

Strike zone

Meanwhile, C.J. Wilson danced around trouble the first two innings and has been dazzling since, striking out the side in the fourth.

Follow the game live on CBSSports.com's Game Tracker.

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Posted on: October 8, 2011 4:28 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 2:17 am
 

Lineups announced for ALCS Game 1

Cabrera

By Evan Brunell


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Tigers and Rangers have revealed their lineups for Game 1, slated to occur at 8:05 p.m. ET. The game promises to have a fantastic matchup, pitting Justin Verlander against C.J. Wilson. Only time will tell if the duel will match up to the gem we saw Friday night in Game 5 of the Cardinals and Phillies NLCS.

Ryan Raburn, despite a lackluster season that saw him lose his job, bats second in left field, replacing Delmon Young. Young was not placed on the ALCS roster after suffering a left oblique injury in Game 5. It's rather disappointing of Leyland to stick Raburn at No. 2; I would have much rather seen Brandon Inge, who can hit lefties rather well, at the spot. Late in the game, Wilson Betemit pinch-hitting at No. 2 would also be a significant boost.

Tigers Rangers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Austin Jackson CF 1 Ian Kinsler 2B
2 Ryan Raburn LF 2 Elvis Andrus SS
3 Miguel Cabrera 1B 3 Josh Hamilton CF
4 Victor Martinez DH 4 Michael Young DH
5 Magglio Ordonez RF 5 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Alex Avila C 6 Mike Napoli C
7 Jhonny Peralta SS 7 Nelson Cruz RF
8 Ramon Santiago 2B 8 David Murphy LF
9 Brandon Inge 3B 9 Mitch Moreland 1B

Justin Verlander RHP
C.J. Wilson LHP

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Pictured: Miguel Cabrera

Posted on: October 7, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 4:45 pm
 

Tigers vs. Rangers ALCS preview

By Evan Brunell

Detroit-Texas ALCS

The Tigers and Rangers share one thing in common -- both teams have AL pennants to their name in recent seasons, but fell short in the World Series. Jim Leyland took Detroit to the World Series in 2006, his first season with the club, winning 95 after the Tigers registered five straight seasons of at least 90 losses, including 119 in 2003. It's taken them some time to return to the postseason, but they're here after downing the Yankees in five games. Detroit will be leaning on the electric arm of Justin Verlander, who won Rookie of the Year in '05 but gave up 17 runs in 21 2/3 innings across the 2005 postseason. He'll get a chance at redemption against Texas, who appeared in the Fall Classic a mere season ago.

The revamped Rangers may have lost Cliff Lee, but their offense is as potent as its ever been in franchise history, adding Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli to its monstrous lineup. Seeking to become the first consecutive AL pennant champion since the 1998-2001 Yankees, Texas will be relying on C.J. Wilson and its formidable bullpen to keep the Tiger offense in check. However, Texas' own offense needs to play up to its billing, as the team scored just 16 runs in the LDS, least among any team. (Granted, Texas was the only advancing club to play a series in less than five games, bouncing Tampa Bay in four.)

TEAM INFORMATION

Detroit Tigers (host games 3, 4, 5*)
95-67, AL Central champions
ALDS
: Defeated Yankees in 5 games -- View coverage of ALDS Tigers-Yankees
Manager
: Jim Leyland
Regular-season batting statistics: .277 batting average (3rd in AL), .340 on-base percentage (3rd), .434 slugging percentage (4th)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 4.04 ERA (7th), 1.32 WHIP (8th), 2.27 K/BB (6th)
Star player: SP Justin Verlander -- 24-5, 2.41 ERA, 251 IP, 0.92 WHIP, 250 K

Texas Rangers (host games 1, 2, 6*, 7*)
96-66, AL West champions
ALDS
: Defeated Rays in 4 games -- View coverage of ALDS Rangers-Rays
Manager: Ron Washington
Regular-season batting statistics: .283 batting average (1st), .340 on-base percentage (5th), .460 slugging percentage (2nd)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (13th), 1.24 WHIP (5th), 2.56 K/BB (5th)
Star player: C Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631, 432 plate appearances, 30 HR, 75 RBI

*if necessary

WHO HAS THE EDGE? (Click player name for statistics)

Let's break each position down and see which team has the edge...

Catcher: Alex Avila vs. Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba


Being a quality catcher is difficult to do. You have to be able to call a game, develop a rapport with pitchers, block balls effectively, have a gun for an arm... and oh yeah, hit too. The latter category is what Avila and Napoli excel at, as both rank 1-2 in baseball in catcher offense. Napoli of course, blows away Avila in offense, but the Ranger also has 28 less games at the position, in large part due to another capable catcher also on the roster in Torrealba -- but the Tigers have Victor Martinez, too. Defensively, Avila holds the edge, and this is just too close to call.

First base: Miguel Cabrera vs. Mitch Moreland, Michael Young


Moreland could feasibly be at first base the entire series, as he's a favorite of the club and all of Detroit's starters are right-handed, but Young could steal a couple games if the team wants to get Torrealba or Craig Gentry into the lineup. Either way, both these players pale in comparison to Miguel Cabrera who, if it wasn't for Justin Verlander lucking into 24 wins (to be clear, he's a very good pitcher, but win-loss records have nothing to do with player quality), he could very well be the favorite for the MVP award. Cabrera led all of baseball in doubles, batting average, OBP and decided to swat 30 homers too. Moreland is still scrapping to be a full-time player and Young just can't field.

Second base: Ramon Santiago vs. Ian Kinsler


This isn't even close. The Tigers have cycled through six second basemen this season, with five of them receiving at least 17 starts. Santiago won the job basically by default, as Carlos Guillen can't stay healthy, Ryan Raburn split his time between left and second then lost his job for a complete inability to hit and Scott Sizemore was traded. Santiago is like Raburn in that he can't hit, but can flash a solid glove. Kinsler, meanwhile, was one of the most valuable second basemen in the game.

Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta vs. Elvis Andrus


Andrus can pick the ball, get on base and steal bases. Peralta can't steal any bases and can only play a passable short. But boy, can Peralta hit. Here's the thing, though -- people tend to overvalue offense because it's easily quantified, and you can see with your eyes the impact a bat can have. Stolen bases and defense, not so much. But they are important facets of the game as well, and when you factor everything in, this is a dead-even.

Third base: Wilson Betemit, Brandon Inge vs. Adrian Beltre


Adrian Beltre is an awesome player, there is no doubt about that. He posted the second-best season of his career and slugged three home runs to pace the narrative of Texas winning the ALDS. However, the gap between Beltre and the Tigers' crew isn't as large as one might think. Betemit rakes against righties, while Inge is capable against left-handers. But don't ask them to face the opposite-handed pitcher. Inge also has excellent defense at the hot corner and is a great late-inning replacement for Betemit. All told, the duo combines into a pretty good player. Good enough that the difference between Detroit and Texas at the spot is not significant.

Left field: Delmon Young vs. David Murphy, Craig Gentry


Young injured himself in Game 5 of the ALDS, but reports are that he should be fine for the ALCS. If not, Raburn will start in his place. Young has played his way into a 2012 role with the Tigers, but he's doing so on the backing of a hot streak that might not be sustainable long-term. He's a statue in left field and his value is tied up completely in swatting home runs. Murphy, meanwhile, parlayed a hot September into more playing time and has been sharing time with Gentry, with Murphy getting PT against right-handers and Gentry mostly playing against lefties. If Young wasn't performing well as of late, this would probably be a slight edge to the Rangers, but as long as Young's hot streak is carrying him, we'll call this even.

Center field
: Austin Jackson vs. Josh Hamilton


This isn't a difficult decision at all. Hamilton is one of the best hitters in the game and is the reigning AL MVP. Austin Jackson, meanwhile, rode a lot of luck to a .293 batting average last season that sank to .249 this year. He has strong defense, but is miscast as the leadoff hitter.

Right field: Magglio Ordonez vs. Nelson Cruz


At one point this season, Ordonez contemplated hanging his spikes up. Good thing he didn't, for he hit .365 from Aug. 21 to the end of the year and finished the ALDS with five hits in 11 at-bats, including a 3-for-3 effort in Game 2. When Ordonez is hot, he can still beat any pitcher, regardless of his advanced age. But his defense is questionable, and Nelson Cruz is a better hitter at this point. Although Cruz is slumping significantly, gathering just one hit in 15 trips to the plate during the ALDS against the Rays, he remains the better player.

Designated hitter: Victor Martinez vs. Young


A certain three-year-old, I'm sure, would pick Young here with an edge. But both Martinez and Young are remarkably similar in production at the DH spot, and the numbers are uncannily similar even though Young has played in 14 more games. Take a look:

Martinez: .330/.380/.470, 12 HR, 103 RBI
Young: .338/.380/.474, 11 HR, 106 RBI

How can you not call this even?

Starting pitching: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Rick Porcello vs. C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison


The order listed here is the order that both teams have announced will go in the ALCS, so let's judge it on these parameters. For one, the Tigers clearly lose by not being able to set up their rotation they way they wanted. Rick Porcello, obviously the lesser member of the quartet, will start twice while Max Scherzer only draws Game 4 after appearing in relief during Game 5 of the ALDS. Regardless, the Tigers still hold an overall edge here. You don't need me to throw more platitudes Verlander's way, and Fister has been a revelation since coming over from Seattle (although he's veering fast into overrated territory) and Scherzer is a quality pitcher whose potential breakout has been tantalizing pitchers for quite some time.

Over in Texas, C.J. Wilson is a great pitcher, but doesn't quite stack up to Verlander. Porcello matching up against Derek Holland pits a battle of proming young pitchers, especially Holland, who is showing signs of emerging into an ace but is lacks consistency and is prone to the wild inning if he lets the game get away from him. Lewis has an incredible postseason record, but his propensity to give up the long ball held him back in the regular season. Harrison impressed against the Rays by punching out nine but could only last five innings and the jury is still out on just how good a picher he is.

All told, yet another matchup where both teams look even -- but not quite, as Verlander is the man that tips the scales in the Tigers' favor.

Relief pitching: Jose Valverde and co. vs. Neftali Feliz and co.


Both Valverde and Feliz are good pitchers when on, but both can also be maddeningly inconsistent. The Tigers closer can point to his 49 of 49 record in saves, but he walks way too much to be reliable. Feliz, meanwhile, took a clear step back from last season when he closed 40 games as a rookie and lost his strong command. He's been much better since the All-Star break, though, and if I had to pick one closer, I'd take Feliz. Texas also has a vaunted setup corps, boasting Mike Adams (who is still one of the best relievers in the game despite a spike in home runs allowed), Koji Uehara, Alexi Ogando, Mike Gonzalez and Darrell Oliver most notably.

Texas' 3.79 bullpen ERA during the regular season was fifth-best in the AL and would have been even better with full years of all relievers mentioned sans Feliz and Oliver, who have been with the club all year. By comparison, the Tigers' two best relievers are Al Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit, but Alburquerque only pitched 14 1/3 innings in the second half and did not look good in Games 1 and 4 of the ALDS. The Tigers pen has a chance to be a good one, but Texas is the better bet to come out on top in the war of bullpens.

Defense


Defensive statistics are getting a bum rap these days, and it's understandable. Quantifying defense is a very difficult thing to do and no defensive metric out there can be relied on. However, when you have a large sample to draw from, multiple numbers to look at and enough of a disparity in the numbers, it becomes obvious which defense holds up. And that's the Rangers, who score well in defensive metrics, largely on the strength of Andrus, Kinsler and Beltre, while the Tigers are affected by the tin gloves of Betemit, Cabrera, and Young the most.

DetroitPREDICTION

Both teams shape up to be remarkably even all across the board -- even though both teams are the last two standing in the AL and it makes sense that they would be equals, it's not often you see such a balanced division. It will come down to the postseason mantra of good pitching always beating good hitting, and given the presence of Verlander, I'll give the nod to Detroit vanquishing Texas in six games, while Daniel Knobler likes Detroit too, but in seven.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com