Athlon editors cast their vote for the American League's best pitcher this season
With the World Series in the rear-view mirror and the hot stove just beginning to heat up, it's time to hand out some awards to this year's best performers on the diamond. The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) started handing out theirs today by announcing the AL and NL Rookies of the Year.
Texas has Detroit outmanned in quest for World Series
Courtesy of Doug Fister, the Detroit Tigers survived their must-win game last night in Detroit. Now down, two games to one, the Tigers must find a way to win three more games with a makeshift lineup and getting just two more starts combined from Fister and ace Justin Verlander. So, where will the third win come from?
For the Rangers, the formula seems fairly simple: Win Games 4 and 6, which means avoiding seeing Fister again in Game 7.
Yet Texas hasn’t exactly set the baseball world ablaze with starting pitchers this series either. And now manager Ron Washington will ask Matt Harrison to keep the Tigers at bay tonight in a matchup of No. 4 starters. Both Harrison and Detroit start Rick Porcello were 14-9 during the regular season.
However, the real story for the remainder of this series will be the health of the Tigers and just how much of the load Miguel Cabrera can carry. Delmon Young, who injured his rib cage earlier in the playoffs, was taken off the roster for the ALCS. After Magglio Ordoñez suffered a fractured ankle, Young was placed back on the roster. That’s how few options the Tigers have for outfielders, especially those who hit from the right side, which is a nice commodity to have with the Rangers starting three lefthanders in this series.
Last night, the situation worsened with the oblique injury to DH Victor Martinez. The slugger hurt himself on a home run. He labored around the bases and appears to have trouble swinging from the left side, presumably the right side as well. That we will find out today.
The bottom line is that the Tigers pitchers — other than Fister and Verlander — cannot silence the Texas bats. So it may not matter how thin the Detroit lineup is in games they don’t pitch. What will be critical is that the Tigers find a way to score runs in games that Fister and Verlander pitch, assuming the Tigers can even get to a seventh game.
This doesn’t look good for Detroit. Expect the Rangers to wrap this series up sooner rather than later.
The Tigers and Rangers bested AL East clubs on the way to the championship series.
The AL East, with three 90-win teams, looked like the power division in baseball for most of the season. The Boston Red Sox had a ton of expectations after the free agent signings of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Gonzalez performed as expected, leading the BoSox in batting average, hits and RBIs. Crawford’s first season at Fenway was a disappointment, hitting a career-low .255. Boston fell apart in September, going 7-20 over the final month and missing the postseason.
After the unusual situation created by the Game 1 washout, the Tigers and Yankees left New York tied at one game apiece and without a day off between Games 2 and 3. Aces Justin Verlander of Detroit and CC Sabathia of New York will start Game 3 tonight after taking the mound for the brief false start last Friday.
The Tigers are certainly a confident team with Verlander on the hill, as they should be having gone 25-9 in his 34 starts this season, 11-3 at home. But in his two starts this season against New York way back on March 31 and May 2, Verlander lasted just six innings in each start, giving up three earned runs in each and not factoring in the decision of either game, both Detroit losses.
Tigers supporters will love to tell you that Verlander can stifle the heart of the Yankees’ batting order. Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano have combined to hit .154 (8-52) off Verlander in their careers.
Sabathia opposed Verlander in the Opening Day start at New York, and also gave up three runs (two earned) over six innings. Like Verlander, Sabathia did not factor in the decision. The beefy lefthander did, however, take the loss in a 4-2 Detroit win in May. Over seven innings Sabathia gave up 10 hits and four runs in taking the loss.
Having said all that, both these teams have adjusted, re-adjusted and made multiple roster and lineup changes since those early season encounters.
Earlier in his career, Verlander may have been affected by the pressure of the postseason, but not in 2011. Verlander and the Tigers will win the game tonight and move on to secure a spot in the ALCS. After Max Scherzer’s performance in Game 2 for Detroit, it appears that the Yankees do not have enough starting pitching to hang with the Tigers.