12th Man Report: Tigers’ ALDS breakdown
This whole Tigers vs. Athletics in the ALDS feels a little familiar doesn’t it?
You know…like maybe these two teams have seen each other before in this playoff round, and maybe it took the Tigers five games to knock off a very quality, young A’s team.
It all seems familiar because that’s exactly what happened last year. Meeting in this exact same scenario — the Tigers, after winning their second AL-Central title, were the No. 3 seed and the A’s the No. 2 seed — Detroit defeated the A’s to advance to the ALCS.
The first pitch of this season’s ALDS will be thrown on Friday night, and it has an eerily similar feeling. Despite the Tigers’ star-studded roster, they yet again enter this divisional series as the underdogs. It’s a little ironic that the Tigers are the underdog because they have more than double the A’s salary. But that’s more a result of the Tigers not having a Billy Beane/Brad Pitt type of GM pulling the strings in the front office — we know that GM Dave Dombrowski hasn’t rivaled Beane’s “moneyball” theory on the financial side of things. Fortunately, the ALDS won’t be determined by who spends their money more efficiently. It’ll be who is the better team and who shows up looking to play.
If we’re looking at past results from this season, it doesn’t bode too well for the Tigers. The A’s are 4-3 against them, and the last time they met — a four-game series in Detroit in late Aug. — the A’s came one inning away from a four-game sweep. Despite their lack of recent success against Oakland, the Tigers have history on their side. In 2006, they defeated the A’s in the ALCS and then a year ago they defeated them in the ALDS.
Looking past all these side stories, the series will ultimately be decided by whichever team plays most consistently the best (I know; a shocking revelation). And the Tigers have the necessary ingredients for another series victory; it’s just a matter of what team shows up.
There are lots of questions and very little answers until the series starts on Friday. Whether Miguel Cabrera will return to his MVP form that had been missing for the final month and a half of the season? How will the youthful bull pen play when the game is on the line? Can Jhonny Peralta play left field? How well will Rick Porcello pitch out of the bull pen?
The only sure thing about this series is that the Tigers have the necessary pieces to handle the A’s. But the A’s are a young team coming in hot with a lot of talent. In honor of history, I’ll predict the Tigers advancing in five games, and Max Sherzer picking up a no-decision in game one and the win in game five. Who knows though — I’m no Nostradamus.