Neither the Detroit Tigers nor the Oakland Athletics have announced how they’ll set up their pitching rotations for the ALDS, but let’s take a stab at predicting how things will shape up.
Game 1: Friday, October 4 (@OAK)
I don’t discount the chance that Justin Verlander will be given the ball due to his elder statesman-like status both among the players and in the eyes of manager Jim Leyland, but Max Scherzer is going to be the American League Cy Young Award winner, and that probably means he should be the horse you ride in the playoffs. Then again Sanchez was the one that lead the starting staff in ERA.
Game 2: Saturday, October 5 (@OAK)
As alluded to above, I could see this matchup happening in game one just as well, but it really doesn’t matter so much and here’s why: due to the nature of the schedule, both the game one starters and game two starters could start in game five on normal rest. And really, that’s the only reason you care about how you order your pitchers; you want to maximize the most games for the best guys.
Game 3: Monday, October 7 (@DET)
Anibal Sanchez could make a tremendous case to be included in the top two, but I just don’t see Verlander falling out of the top three given his success versus the Athletics last October. But really, given the strength of this pitching staff, you’re going to be both wrong and right no matter how you slot the top three. Sanchez, Verlander, and Scherzer each ended the season with a September ERA below 3.00.
Rookie Sonny Gray has only really been up and in the rotation for the second half of the season, but he’s put up impressive numbers. In 64 innings of work he’s put up a 2.69 ERA and a K/9 rate above 9.0.
Game 4: Tuesday*, October 8 (@DET)
The only thing certain about the Tigers’ slotting of their starters is that Doug Fister will be fourth. That’s not a knock on him, but a testament to the strength of the staff. Fister would slot in the top two for most other teams (including playoff teams).
I’ll give the nod to A.J. Griffin for the A’s, but one could make an equally strong case for Dan Straily if they were so inclined. And everything changes top-tp-bottom for Oakland if they think they want to try Brett Anderson in the rotation again. I doubt that will happen as he hasn’t started a game since April (he missed basically four months due to injury).
Game 5: Thursday*, October 10 (@OAK)
This is a repeat of game one with the caveat that the Game Two starters will also be available to start on normal rest (or pitch out of the bullpen if necessary). Looking forward, a pitcher starting in Game 5 of the ALDS would line up on normal rest for Game 3 of the ALCS.
*if necessary, of course.
Feel free to post your guesses and ideas below.