Preview: Tigers @ A’s ALDS Game 1
Here we go! The playoffs. Haven’t posted in a while. I don’t know what it is but September always seems to come along at the busiest time and next thing you know massive amounts of time elapse with no updates despite it being the most exciting part of the season. The A’s have run into the Tigers the last three times they’ve been in the playoffs losing the ALCS in 2006 and falling in the ALDS last year. This year the A’s won’t have to contend with Justin Verlander twice, and furthermore earlier this year they handily solved him (and in Detroit no less), but they do have to face 2013’s Tigers ace Max Scherzer. Scherzer, the American League’s best pitcher takes the hill for the Tigers tonight. Scherzer has been worth 6.4 WAR, sporting a 2.90 ERA and 2.74 FIP in his 214 1/3 innings of 10.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and 0.8 HR/9 work. For the less stats inclined his 2-13 record proves he is a “winner”. The A’s counter with their ace Bartolo Colon who finished second in the ERA race in the AL with a 2.65 ERA in 190 1/3 innings of 5.5 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9 baseball. He sported an impressive 18-6 record so he too could be considered a “winner”. That said the concern about Colon has been his getting tired down the stretch as he is 40, but he has allayed that with a September that saw him throw 9.6 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 and 0.9 HR/9 for a 1.16 ERA and 2.56 FIP in 31 innings. It ought to be an even matchup, but we will give a slight edge to Scherzer, just as the slight edge in this series likely goes to Detroit.
While one can argue every game is a must-win game, this game coming at the Coliseum, being able to get up 1-0, and to neutralize Scherzer really would be a great one to win. The A’s lineup that Bob Melvin will send out to try to get to Scherzer is as follows: Coco Crisp CF, Jed Lowrie SS, Josh Donaldson 3B, Brandon Moss DH, Yoenis Cespedes LF, Josh Reddick RF, Stephen Vogt C, Daric Barton 1B and Eric Sogard 2B. These A’s hit him a bit better than most, though those who have seen him most haven’t fared particularly well and in today’s lineup Moss has seen him the most with 15 plate appearances and a 3-for-13 with a HR to show for it.
The Tigers counter with: Austin Jackson CF, Torii Hunter RF, Miguel Cabrera 3B, Prince Fielder 1B, Victor Martinez DH, Alex Avila C, Omar Infante 2B, Andy Dirks LF, Jose Iglesias SS. Unfortunately, the Tigers have hit Colon well with a .313/.306/.296 clip this year. Hunter has seen him more than anyone else and has hit him alright (.241/.302/.448 in 63 plate appearances) though Cabrera (8-for-16), Avila (4-for 8 with 2 HRs), and Prince (4-for-7 with a HR) are of particular concern.
For September the A’s finished hot going 19-8, whereas Detroit limped to a 13-13 September ending their season just one game ahead of the surging Indians. That said with both these teams last playing on September 29th, momentum (if you believe in such a thing) surely has been delayed long enough to be a non-factor. This is a new season and the new season begins tonight.