Some thoughts going into what could be a very interesting postseason for the Tigers, and their fans.
Oakland Athletics (photo: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE)
The Tigers will play the surprising Oakland Athletics (anyone have this team in the playoffs back in April? Hmmm? No? Mmm-kay then) on Saturday in Game 1 of the ALDS. The A’s, who shocked the Texas Rangers down the stretch by sweeping them right out of a division title, bring a wealth of youth, inexperience, and… Brandon Inge to the table.
Winners of 6 straight games to end the season, the A’s overcame a 5-game deficit with only 9 games to play. So will that hard run to the finish line keep the momentum going for them, or will they be emotionally drained?
I’m going to assume that most fans (including myself) would have preferred an older, tired Yankees team than this current A’s bunch.
The A’s pitching, especially of late, has been very consistent. Just look at their finale with the Rangers: starter A.J. Griffin, 7-1 on the season (lone loss was vs. the Tigers) was the only pitcher in that game to give up any runs. He gave up 5 (4 earned) and raised his ERA all the way up to 3.06. Rather remarkable, since the A’s used 6 pitchers in that game, none of which had and ERA higher than Griffin’s. Granted, the A’s pitching has the ultimate home field advantage with all that foul territory to catch potential pop ups over there, but they didn’t play all 162 at home.
Ultimately, the Tigers might run into a buzz-saw here. Frankly, the A’s are playing with house money here. No one expected them to be here now, and they could very well play like that too. Nice and relaxed, doing what they do… while the Tigers press on with expectations high enough to swing at bad pitches, or hit into not-s0-clutch double plays. Naturally, no one hopes that happens…
Naturally, as a 2nd-rate blogger, I don’t have any inside information on who is or isn’t on the playoff roster. But there are 2 players who I think should have little or no role in the postseason:
Coke has been a total train wreck this season, with the exception of successfully not blowing out his hamstrings sprinting in from the bullpen all season. In 54 innings (66 games) this season, his ERA is 4.00, with 71 hits allowed in those 54 innings, and 18 walks… giving him a WHIP (walks + hits/innings pitched) of 1.648. Yikes. Lefties are batting a reasonable .263 against him, and righties are hammering him at the tune of a .396 batting average. Right now, I’d rather see Jose Valverde pitch left-handed than watch Phil Coke continue to be this ineffective.
Meanwhile, Berry should probably be limited to a deep-bench role. I’m happy to see him come in and pinch run in the later innings, perhaps maybe as a defensive replacement. But Quintin shouldn’t be allowed to pick up a bat.
Never mind the numbers, which have fallen off since his somewhat meteoric rise to the majors this season, and his swing is rather Brennan Boesch-esque, which is not really a compliment. His speed warrants him putting the ball on the ground, or dare I say, even placing down a bunt, but he’s had little success doing either lately. His long swings, and pop outs are not what the Tigers need at the 2nd spot in the lineup. So keep him on the bench, Jim… we’ll settle for Andy Dirks batting 2nd again, pretty please.
Many of you will probably be surprised I didn’t bring up Delmon Young here, but Leyland insists on playing him no matter how much me or legions of other fans suggest otherwise…
I’m on the fence about this new playoff format, and I’ll probably hate it if the Baltimore Orioles don’t beat the Rangers on Friday. Mostly because I don’t want their surprise season go to waste over the potential of 1 bad game. They deserve a series, but since that’s now how it’s done anymore, we’ll have to hope for the best… for those who like to root for the underdog.
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