ALDS preview and pick: Athletics vs. Tigers

ALDS preview and pick: Athletics vs. Tigers

ALDS preview and pick: Athletics vs. Tigers
By Covers.com

Oakland Athletics (94-68) vs. Detroit Tigers (88-74)

Regular season head-to-head:
The Tigers won the season series 4-3.

PITCHING

Oakland’s young pitching staff is no doubt the backbone of the ball club. The A's are set to make history by fielding an all-rookie starting rotation this postseason. Travis Blackley, A.J. Griffin, Tom Milone, Jarrod Parker and Dan Straily are all likely to make their postseason debuts after impressive rookie campaigns. Oakland’s bullpen has been equally as impressive, posting a 2.94 ERA, the fourth-best mark in the league.

Nobody wants to face 2011 MVP Justin Verlander multiple times in a short series. With AL strikeout leader Max Scherzer factoring into the equation and feeling good after a return from shoulder fatigue, the Tigers have a potent one-two punch at the front of the rotation. Closer Jose Valverde has converted all four of his career save opportunities in the postseason.

Edge: Athletics

HITTING

The A’s, whose 14 walkoff victories lead baseball, won their seventh game this year after trailing by four or more runs Wednesday over the Rangers in the AL West clincher. Oakland’s .238 team batting average was one of the worst marks in the league, but its hitters ranked seventh in the majors with 195 home runs, 32 of those coming off the bat of OF Josh Reddick.

Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera became the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, finishing the season with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs. But he isn’t the only big bat Oakland pitchers should be worried about. Slugger Prince Fielder eclipsed the 30-home run mark for the sixth consecutive season, while racking up 108 RBIs.

Edge: Tigers

INTANGIBLES:

Oakland came from 13 games back to capture the AL West title and become the most improbable $59.5-million payroll division winners you’ll ever see. Two of the four teams in MLB history to previously come from 13-or-more games back went on to win the World Series.

The Tigers also had to come from behind to clinch a division title and have been hot down the stretch, going 15-7 over their final 22 games.

Edge: Athletics

PREDICTION: A’s in five games.

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