MLB Picks: Tigers vs. Yankees: ALDS Odds and Predictions
by Darin Zank - 9/30/2011
The American League regular season ended with a bang Wednesday night, with late-night drama in Baltimore and Tampa. Now the AL playoffs begin with a battle of division champions as the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees hook up for a best-of-five divisional-round series starting Friday night in the Bronx.
Setting the Scene
Detroit won the AL Central this season by 15 games over second-place Cleveland. The Tigers actually trailed the Indians for a good part of this season, but took the lead around the all-star break, built a small advantage and then finished with a flourish, winning 30 of their last 39 games. And in trying to catch Texas in the race for the No. 2 seed in the AL Detroit won its last four games. But they came up one game short, and as the No. 3 seed must start the playoffs on the road.
New York won the AL East by six games over second-place Tampa Bay. The Yankees trailed Boston into September, but went 10-4 over a key stretch while the Red Sox imploded. New York clinched the top seed in the American League playoffs last week, then seemed to take its foot off the gas, and lost its last four games, getting swept three games at Tampa to end the season.
In the end the Tigers finished just two games back of the Yankees in the standings.
The Pitching Matchups
The Tigers will throw probable AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander in Friday's series opener (8:37 p.m. Eastern, all games on TBS), and mid-season acquisition Doug Fister in Saturday's Game 2 (8:37 p.m. Eastern). The Yankees will counter with CC Sabathia Friday and Ivan Nova Saturday.
When the series moves to Detroit the Yanks will send Freddy Garcia to the mound for Monday's Game 3 (8:37 p.m. Eastern) against Max Scherzer for the Tigers. After that, if there is an “after that,” things are a bit up in the air. The Yanks might go with AJ Burnett in Tuesday's Game 4, or they might bring Sabathia back on short rest. And Detroit might go with Rick Porcello, or they could bring Verlander back for another start.
After getting Fister from Seattle back in July, he and Verlander teamed to form maybe the most formidable 1-2 punch at the top of a rotation in the American League. Verlander won the AL pitching triple crown, leading the league in wins with 24, ERA at 2.40 and strikeouts with 250. And Fister went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA for the Tigers, allowing just four earned runs over his last eight starts, covering 56 innings.
Scherzer ended up with 15 wins, but his 4.43 ERA doesn't impress, and he gave up more hits than innings pitched.
Sabathia ended up with 19 wins, 230 strikeouts and a 3.00 ERA. But he gave up six ERs on 16 hits in 13 innings vs. Detroit this season. So the Tigers don't seem very intimidated by him.
Nova may be the wild-card in this series. The second-year pro had a breakout season, going 16-4 and giving up fewer hits than innings pitched. The Yankees went 19-8 in his starts, at one point winning 12 in a row. Nova will have an advantage in that he didn't start vs. Detroit this year, so they haven't seen him. And he may end up starting two games.
The veteran Garcia had his ups and downs in his first year with the Yankees, but he ended up with his best ERA in 10 seasons. However, he lost his only start vs. the Tigers this year, giving up four ERs on 10 hits in seven innings.
Overall, we'd give a small advantage in the starting pitching to Detroit in this series.
New York, led by Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, ranked second in the majors this season in team on-base percentage at .343, first in home runs with 222 and second in scoring at 5.4 runs per game. In seven games vs. the Tigers they scored a total of 33 runs.
New York 3B Alex Rodriguez battled injuries all season, and ended up with just 16 homers and 62 RBI. And A-Rod enters the post-season with a sore knee that kept him out of Wednesday's game in Tampa.
Detroit, led by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, ranked fourth in the majors in both team OBP at .340 OBP and in scoring at 4.9 RPG. And in seven games vs. the Yankees the Tigers scored 46 runs.
The Season Series
These two teams began the season with the Yankees taking two of three games in a series in New York. Sabathia beat Verlander on opening day, and the teams split the next two games. And all three of those games played ‘over’ their posted totals. Then a month later the Tigers took three of four games from the Yankees in Detroit. The Yanks beat Verlander again in that series opener, but Brad Penny, Scherzer, Porcello and the Tigers pen held New York to five runs the following three games. So on the season Detroit took four of seven games from the Yankees.
The only previous time that these two teams have met in the playoffs came five years ago, when the Tigers dumped the Yankees in four games in a divisional-round series that also started in New York.
Tigers vs. Yankees Betting Odds
Bodog is listing New York as a -150 favorite to win this series, with Detroit getting +130 as the underdog. The Yankees are also lined at +138 to win the American League pennant and 4/1 to win the World Series, while the Tigers are getting +325 to win the pennant and 7/1 to win the Series.
MLB Picks: Tigers vs. Yankees Series Prediction
Verlander had a ridiculous season, but he lost both his starts vs. the Yankees, allowing six ERs in 12 innings. And if Detroit is going to win this series, Verlander has to win both his starts. And we don't see that happening. So we're going with the Yankees to win this series.
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