Tag:Justin Verlander
Posted on: October 7, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 4:45 pm

Tigers vs. Rangers ALCS preview

By Evan Brunell

Detroit-Texas ALCS

The Tigers and Rangers share one thing in common -- both teams have AL pennants to their name in recent seasons, but fell short in the World Series. Jim Leyland took Detroit to the World Series in 2006, his first season with the club, winning 95 after the Tigers registered five straight seasons of at least 90 losses, including 119 in 2003. It's taken them some time to return to the postseason, but they're here after downing the Yankees in five games. Detroit will be leaning on the electric arm of Justin Verlander, who won Rookie of the Year in '05 but gave up 17 runs in 21 2/3 innings across the 2005 postseason. He'll get a chance at redemption against Texas, who appeared in the Fall Classic a mere season ago.

The revamped Rangers may have lost Cliff Lee, but their offense is as potent as its ever been in franchise history, adding Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli to its monstrous lineup. Seeking to become the first consecutive AL pennant champion since the 1998-2001 Yankees, Texas will be relying on C.J. Wilson and its formidable bullpen to keep the Tiger offense in check. However, Texas' own offense needs to play up to its billing, as the team scored just 16 runs in the LDS, least among any team. (Granted, Texas was the only advancing club to play a series in less than five games, bouncing Tampa Bay in four.)


Detroit Tigers (host games 3, 4, 5*)
95-67, AL Central champions
: Defeated Yankees in 5 games -- View coverage of ALDS Tigers-Yankees
: Jim Leyland
Regular-season batting statistics: .277 batting average (3rd in AL), .340 on-base percentage (3rd), .434 slugging percentage (4th)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 4.04 ERA (7th), 1.32 WHIP (8th), 2.27 K/BB (6th)
Star player: SP Justin Verlander -- 24-5, 2.41 ERA, 251 IP, 0.92 WHIP, 250 K

Texas Rangers (host games 1, 2, 6*, 7*)
96-66, AL West champions
: Defeated Rays in 4 games -- View coverage of ALDS Rangers-Rays
Manager: Ron Washington
Regular-season batting statistics: .283 batting average (1st), .340 on-base percentage (5th), .460 slugging percentage (2nd)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (13th), 1.24 WHIP (5th), 2.56 K/BB (5th)
Star player: C Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631, 432 plate appearances, 30 HR, 75 RBI

*if necessary

WHO HAS THE EDGE? (Click player name for statistics)

Let's break each position down and see which team has the edge...

Catcher: Alex Avila vs. Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba

Being a quality catcher is difficult to do. You have to be able to call a game, develop a rapport with pitchers, block balls effectively, have a gun for an arm... and oh yeah, hit too. The latter category is what Avila and Napoli excel at, as both rank 1-2 in baseball in catcher offense. Napoli of course, blows away Avila in offense, but the Ranger also has 28 less games at the position, in large part due to another capable catcher also on the roster in Torrealba -- but the Tigers have Victor Martinez, too. Defensively, Avila holds the edge, and this is just too close to call.

First base: Miguel Cabrera vs. Mitch Moreland, Michael Young

Moreland could feasibly be at first base the entire series, as he's a favorite of the club and all of Detroit's starters are right-handed, but Young could steal a couple games if the team wants to get Torrealba or Craig Gentry into the lineup. Either way, both these players pale in comparison to Miguel Cabrera who, if it wasn't for Justin Verlander lucking into 24 wins (to be clear, he's a very good pitcher, but win-loss records have nothing to do with player quality), he could very well be the favorite for the MVP award. Cabrera led all of baseball in doubles, batting average, OBP and decided to swat 30 homers too. Moreland is still scrapping to be a full-time player and Young just can't field.

Second base: Ramon Santiago vs. Ian Kinsler

This isn't even close. The Tigers have cycled through six second basemen this season, with five of them receiving at least 17 starts. Santiago won the job basically by default, as Carlos Guillen can't stay healthy, Ryan Raburn split his time between left and second then lost his job for a complete inability to hit and Scott Sizemore was traded. Santiago is like Raburn in that he can't hit, but can flash a solid glove. Kinsler, meanwhile, was one of the most valuable second basemen in the game.

Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta vs. Elvis Andrus

Andrus can pick the ball, get on base and steal bases. Peralta can't steal any bases and can only play a passable short. But boy, can Peralta hit. Here's the thing, though -- people tend to overvalue offense because it's easily quantified, and you can see with your eyes the impact a bat can have. Stolen bases and defense, not so much. But they are important facets of the game as well, and when you factor everything in, this is a dead-even.

Third base: Wilson Betemit, Brandon Inge vs. Adrian Beltre

Adrian Beltre is an awesome player, there is no doubt about that. He posted the second-best season of his career and slugged three home runs to pace the narrative of Texas winning the ALDS. However, the gap between Beltre and the Tigers' crew isn't as large as one might think. Betemit rakes against righties, while Inge is capable against left-handers. But don't ask them to face the opposite-handed pitcher. Inge also has excellent defense at the hot corner and is a great late-inning replacement for Betemit. All told, the duo combines into a pretty good player. Good enough that the difference between Detroit and Texas at the spot is not significant.

Left field: Delmon Young vs. David Murphy, Craig Gentry

Young injured himself in Game 5 of the ALDS, but reports are that he should be fine for the ALCS. If not, Raburn will start in his place. Young has played his way into a 2012 role with the Tigers, but he's doing so on the backing of a hot streak that might not be sustainable long-term. He's a statue in left field and his value is tied up completely in swatting home runs. Murphy, meanwhile, parlayed a hot September into more playing time and has been sharing time with Gentry, with Murphy getting PT against right-handers and Gentry mostly playing against lefties. If Young wasn't performing well as of late, this would probably be a slight edge to the Rangers, but as long as Young's hot streak is carrying him, we'll call this even.

Center field
: Austin Jackson vs. Josh Hamilton

This isn't a difficult decision at all. Hamilton is one of the best hitters in the game and is the reigning AL MVP. Austin Jackson, meanwhile, rode a lot of luck to a .293 batting average last season that sank to .249 this year. He has strong defense, but is miscast as the leadoff hitter.

Right field: Magglio Ordonez vs. Nelson Cruz

At one point this season, Ordonez contemplated hanging his spikes up. Good thing he didn't, for he hit .365 from Aug. 21 to the end of the year and finished the ALDS with five hits in 11 at-bats, including a 3-for-3 effort in Game 2. When Ordonez is hot, he can still beat any pitcher, regardless of his advanced age. But his defense is questionable, and Nelson Cruz is a better hitter at this point. Although Cruz is slumping significantly, gathering just one hit in 15 trips to the plate during the ALDS against the Rays, he remains the better player.

Designated hitter: Victor Martinez vs. Young

A certain three-year-old, I'm sure, would pick Young here with an edge. But both Martinez and Young are remarkably similar in production at the DH spot, and the numbers are uncannily similar even though Young has played in 14 more games. Take a look:

Martinez: .330/.380/.470, 12 HR, 103 RBI
Young: .338/.380/.474, 11 HR, 106 RBI

How can you not call this even?

Starting pitching: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Rick Porcello vs. C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison

The order listed here is the order that both teams have announced will go in the ALCS, so let's judge it on these parameters. For one, the Tigers clearly lose by not being able to set up their rotation they way they wanted. Rick Porcello, obviously the lesser member of the quartet, will start twice while Max Scherzer only draws Game 4 after appearing in relief during Game 5 of the ALDS. Regardless, the Tigers still hold an overall edge here. You don't need me to throw more platitudes Verlander's way, and Fister has been a revelation since coming over from Seattle (although he's veering fast into overrated territory) and Scherzer is a quality pitcher whose potential breakout has been tantalizing pitchers for quite some time.

Over in Texas, C.J. Wilson is a great pitcher, but doesn't quite stack up to Verlander. Porcello matching up against Derek Holland pits a battle of proming young pitchers, especially Holland, who is showing signs of emerging into an ace but is lacks consistency and is prone to the wild inning if he lets the game get away from him. Lewis has an incredible postseason record, but his propensity to give up the long ball held him back in the regular season. Harrison impressed against the Rays by punching out nine but could only last five innings and the jury is still out on just how good a picher he is.

All told, yet another matchup where both teams look even -- but not quite, as Verlander is the man that tips the scales in the Tigers' favor.

Relief pitching: Jose Valverde and co. vs. Neftali Feliz and co.

Both Valverde and Feliz are good pitchers when on, but both can also be maddeningly inconsistent. The Tigers closer can point to his 49 of 49 record in saves, but he walks way too much to be reliable. Feliz, meanwhile, took a clear step back from last season when he closed 40 games as a rookie and lost his strong command. He's been much better since the All-Star break, though, and if I had to pick one closer, I'd take Feliz. Texas also has a vaunted setup corps, boasting Mike Adams (who is still one of the best relievers in the game despite a spike in home runs allowed), Koji Uehara, Alexi Ogando, Mike Gonzalez and Darrell Oliver most notably.

Texas' 3.79 bullpen ERA during the regular season was fifth-best in the AL and would have been even better with full years of all relievers mentioned sans Feliz and Oliver, who have been with the club all year. By comparison, the Tigers' two best relievers are Al Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit, but Alburquerque only pitched 14 1/3 innings in the second half and did not look good in Games 1 and 4 of the ALDS. The Tigers pen has a chance to be a good one, but Texas is the better bet to come out on top in the war of bullpens.


Defensive statistics are getting a bum rap these days, and it's understandable. Quantifying defense is a very difficult thing to do and no defensive metric out there can be relied on. However, when you have a large sample to draw from, multiple numbers to look at and enough of a disparity in the numbers, it becomes obvious which defense holds up. And that's the Rangers, who score well in defensive metrics, largely on the strength of Andrus, Kinsler and Beltre, while the Tigers are affected by the tin gloves of Betemit, Cabrera, and Young the most.


Both teams shape up to be remarkably even all across the board -- even though both teams are the last two standing in the AL and it makes sense that they would be equals, it's not often you see such a balanced division. It will come down to the postseason mantra of good pitching always beating good hitting, and given the presence of Verlander, I'll give the nod to Detroit vanquishing Texas in six games, while Daniel Knobler likes Detroit too, but in seven.

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Posted on: October 7, 2011 1:18 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 12:40 pm

Grading the Tigers-Yankees ALDS

By Matt Snyder

Jim Leyland's tinkering. Leyland was roundly mocked on Twitter for his choice in the two-hole of the batting order throughout the series. He used a different lineup five different times in five games while Yankees manager Joe Girardi kept the same lineup throughout the entire ALDS. And look at the Tigers' three wins. Magglio Ordonez was 3-for-3 with a run scored in Game 2. Ramon Santiago was 2-for-4 with two huge RBI in a Game 3 victory and Thursday night in Game 5, Don Kelly opened the scoring in the first inning with a solo home run. Give Leyland credit for pushing the right buttons, specifically with who he batted second, but generally throughout the entire series.

The Tigers' back-end duo of Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde wasn't perfect in the series. Valverde made Game 2 interesting with a bad ninth and Benoit walked in a run Thursday night, even if it was an inherited runner. Still, the Tigers blew zero leads with either pitcher on the mound and the duo was a major reason for the series victory. Benoit in particular had to work out of some pretty rough spots, both in Game 2 and in Game 5. His stuff is nasty and he came up with big strikeouts when he had to have them. Valverde was shaky in his first two outings, but was anything but that in Game 5, with a one-run lead and the season on the line.

Justin Verlander struck out 11 batters and was masterful at times in his lone real start of the series: Game 3. He also gave up six hits, three walks and four earned runs. He did gather the victory, as he outpitched Yankees ace CC Sabathia. And we have to point out the Yankees do have a pretty damn good offense, too. It's just that this was a "C" effort for Verlander considering his body of work. You don't expect him to go out and give up four runs in a must-win game. He wasn't at his best, he was just good enough. That's a C-effort in my book. Probably in his, too. I also fully expect an A-effort in Game 1 against the Rangers.

We're going with Mother Nature/Major League Baseball here. Game 1 was ruined by rain. We have absolutely no way of knowing how the series would have gone -- and, remember, I predicted the Tigers in five anyway, so this is no excuse for the Yankees' loss -- but we were deprived of the real series. If MLB moved the start time earlier or didn't start Game 1 at all last Friday, we'd have seen both Verlander and Yankees ace CC Sabathia make two full starts in the series. Instead, each was wasted in a rain-suspended Game 1 and could only turn around to make one more start. On the other hand, the weather reports aren't always predictable, so this was a tough call. Bottom line, we got screwed a bit, and there's nowhere else to place the blame than with whoever you believe controls the weather in New York City.

Yankees 4-5-6 hitters. Alex Rodriguez is a big scapegoat for many. He has been for years. In Game 5, he struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh inning and then ended the series with a strikeout in the ninth. The boos showered down upon him several times at home. Nick Swisher also struck out with the bases loaded in Game 5, and his was to end the inning. Combined, A-Rod, Mark Teixeira and Swisher went 9-for-55 (.164) with five RBI in the entire series. A-Rod was the worst, going 2-for-18 (.111), but all three of these guys were bad. If you want to know how bad, here's another illustration: The only two runs Robinson Cano scored all series were on his own home runs. He was left on base seven times.

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Posted on: October 6, 2011 7:54 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 7:57 pm

Justin Verlander definitely unavailable Thursday

By Matt Snyder

Tigers manager Jim Leyland was pretty firm in his stance Wednesday that ace Justin Verlander was not going to pitch in Game 5. He meant it, because Verlander threw a 57-pitch bullpen session -- as are customary between starts for major-leaguers in the rotation -- Thursday afternoon. There's no way Verlander would be asked to dial it up back up under any circumstances, so he's done for the ALDS. If the Tigers lose, he won't pitch again until 2012, as this is an elimination game.

Knowing what we know, this is pretty confusing.

New York-Detroit ALDS
Verlander was able to throw 57 pitches in the bullpen. Even if he wasn't completely throwing 100 percent, he surely could have managed 25 or so pitches at 100 percent in the game, right? And if he doesn't throw his bullpen session during the day, that doesn't mean you have to pitch him during the game. It's just a bit mind-boggling to completely take the option off the table by having him go ahead with his session instead of waiting and seeing if he could be used.

What if starting pitcher Doug Fister melts down and is forced to leave after two innings? Max Scherzer will likely take over, but he's not the best pitcher in the AL. Verlander is.

The Tigers' season will be over if they lose Game 5. It seems like they'd be ready to do whatever it takes to avoid such a scenario. We're not talking about endangering a player's future here. We're talking about a pitcher who threw 57 meaningless pitches in the afternoon instead of being ready to throw a few meaningful pitches during Game 5 of the ALDS. No one is saying the Tigers should schedule Verlander to throw, say, the sixth and seventh innings. I'm simply saying they should have at least left open the option of him contributing around 25 pitches. The Yankees are leaving the option of CC Sabathia open. Friday night, the Phillies will have Cliff Lee in the bullpen. It's time to advance to the LCS.

We don't know what's going to happen in the game and the Tigers do have a good bullpen. But if they lose because of one or two bad innings from the pitching staff, Leyland is going to have plenty of questions to answer.

After the game, they call that second-guessing. So consider this a first guess. I just don't get it.

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Posted on: October 5, 2011 5:53 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 5:59 pm

Sabathia in Game 5 bullpen, Verlander not

By Matt Snyder

After the Yankees won in blowout fashion at Detroit in Game 4 of the ALDS, the series heads back to New York for one final game. The big story of the series has been the use of Cy Young contenders CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander. The two started Friday night but play was suspended after the top of the second inning. They then squared off Monday night, with Verlander's Tigers winning. They'll only be on two days' rest Thursday, so there's no way either could start, but what about coming out of the bullpen?

Sabathia is a tentative yes.

"I would think that I would [have Sabathia], but I have to check with him," Girardi said (MLB.com). "I can check with him today, [but] it doesn't matter how he feels today, it matters how he feels [Thursday]. I would expect I would have him."

New York-Detroit ALDS
Verlander, on the other hand, sounds like a firm no.

"I wouldn't do anything foolish," Leyland said (MLB.com). "I try not to do anything foolish with any of my pitchers, let alone an arm like that. You saw what a talent he is. I would say he's definitely done for this series."

Verlander threw 120 pitches Monday, while Sabathia threw 106. It's kind of surprising Leyland won't even consider Verlander for even one inning, as pitchers do throw side sessions between starts. Leyland did say Game 2 starter Max Scherzer would be available, but he's no Verlander. Still, the most important pitchers for Thursday's deciding Game 5 are the starters: Ivan Nova and Doug Fister.

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 9:36 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 9:44 pm

Remember me? Granderson gives Yankees early lead

By Matt Snyder

Curtis Granderson was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2002 and came up through the system. He played the first six years of his career for the Tigers. Monday night, he gave the Yankees an early 2-0 lead in quite impressive fashion.

After Derek Jeter led off the game with single up the middle, Granderson turned a triple-digit Justin Verlander fastball into an RBI triple to deep center. Granderson then showed his wheels by scoring on an Alex Rodriguez ground out to shortstop -- even though the Tigers had the infield pulled in. Just like that, it was 2-0 Yankees on a night where runs were expected to be at a premium.

There's a long way to go, especially with neither pitcher looking dominant -- CC Sabathia had four walks through two innings -- but two runs could be paramount in this type of pitching matchup. And, again, the pitch Granderson smashed to center was 100 miles per hour. (UPDATE: Right on cue, the Tigers tied it, 2-2, within minutes of this posting. Where's our pitcher's duel?)

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More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Yankees-Tigers series2011 playoffs

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 4:29 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 4:32 pm

ALDS Game 3: CC vs. Verlander, Part Deux

By Matt Snyder

Yankees at Tigers, 8:37 p.m. ET, Comerica Park, TBS


Tigers Yankees
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Derek Jeter SS 1 Austin Jackson CF
2 Curtis Granderson CF 2 Ramon Santiago 2B
3 Robinson Cano 2B 3 Delmon Young LF
4 Alex Rodriguez 3B 4 Miguel Cabrera 1B
5 Mark Teixeira 1B 5 Victor Martinez DH
6 Nick Swisher RF 6 Magglio Ordonez RF
7 Jorge Posada DH 7 Jhonny Peralta SS
8 Russell Martin C 8 Alex Avila C
9 Brett Gardner LF 9 Brandon Inge 3B
  CC Sabathia LHP   Justin Verlander RHP

We were supposed to get CC vs. Verlander Friday and weather took it away from us after just nine outs. Monday night, it's time again. Hopefully we're treated to clear skies throughout (and the weather report says there's a chance of rain, but the chances get higher later in the night).


Sabathia vs. Tigers: Sabathia was 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.65 WHIP two regular-season starts against the Tigers. In his career, Sabathia has faced the Tigers 32 times -- remember, he played in the AL Central for a long time -- going 15-12 with a 4.54 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. Of course, we have to remember, this includes numbers from the early 2000s, when the Tigers' lineup didn't even resemble what it is now. In 14 career starts in Comerica Park, Sabathia is 7-5 with a 4.30 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.

Verlander vs. Yankees: He only faced them twice this season, but it wasn't his best line. He had a 4.50 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 12 regular-season innings. He also allowed a run against them in his only inning Friday night. The good news for Tigers fans? Verlander is utterly dominant at home. He's 57-23 with a 3.24 ERA in his career at home, but this season he was 10-3 with a 2.37 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 16 home starts. Then again, he was just as dominant on the road this season.

New York-Detroit ALDS
  • We wrote Sunday that Miguel Cabrera owned Freddy Garcia and the Tigers' first baseman came through with a huge game. Monday, the numbers point to more of the same. Cabrera is hitting .529 with two home runs, 11 RBI and a 1.506 OPS in 23 career plate appearances against Sabathia. In turn, expect CC to be pretty careful with Miggy.
  • Jeter is past his prime as an elite leadoff hitter, but his history against Verlander looks good. He's hitting .345 with a .441 on-base percentage in 34 career plate appearances against the Tigers' ace. Swisher, Teixeira, A-Rod, Cano and Granderson are all hitting under .200 against Verlander, though.
  • The Tigers won the regular season series 4-3, having outscored the Yankees 36-33. Add in the two playoff games and the Yankees have outscored the Tigers 45-44, but the Tigers have won five games.
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Posted on: October 1, 2011 9:47 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 12:25 am

Cano's near-homer breaks up pitcher's duel

By Matt Snyder

Game 1 of the ALDS between the Tigers and Yankees was supposed to be a matchup of aces; a pitcher's duel for the ages. It was set to showcase a pair of Cy Young candidates. And then Mother Nature intervened and we had to re-start Game 1 Saturday in the bottom of the second inning.

Early on, it looked like we'd get that pitcher's duel anyway, only this time it would be courtesy of Ivan Nova and Doug Fister.

Through five, Nova has thrown three shutout innings, allowing two hits and no runs. Sure, he was helped by a nice relay from Curtis Granderson to Derek Jeter to Russell Martin to nail Alex Avila at home plate, but no runs have scored, so that's the bottom line.

Fister, meanwhile, had been even better. He'd thrown three shutout innings, having allowed just two hits while striking out five and walking none. But a Curtis Granderson single and a near-home run from Robinson Cano gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead through five innings. The ball bounced right off the top of the wall in left-center field and came back into play. Two fans in the direct line of the ball even backed away and let the play run its course. The umpires used the replay review system and determined the call of no home run on the field would stand. Alex Rodriguez then flew out to end the inning, but the Yankees had notched an advantage.

Still, both offenses appear to be getting settled in. This thing is far from over.

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More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Yankees-Tigers series2011 playoffs

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Posted on: September 30, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 9:37 pm

ALDS Game 1 Preview: Aces meet in Bronx

By Matt Snyder

Tigers at Yankees, 8:37 p.m. ET, New Yankee Stadium, TBS


Tigers Yankees
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Austin Jackson CF 1 Derek Jeter SS
2 Magglio Ordonez RF 2 Curtis Granderson CF
3 Delmon Young LF 3 Robinson Cano 2B
4 Miguel Cabrera 1B 4 Alex Rodriguez 3B
5 Victor Martinez DH 5 Mark Teixeira 1B
6 Alex Avila C 6 Nick Swisher RF
7 Ryan Raburn 2B 7 Jorge Posada DH
8 Jhonny Peralta SS 8 Russell Martin C
9 Brandon Inge 3B 9 Brett Gardner LF
  Justin Verlander RHP   CC Sabathia LHP


Verlander vs. Yankees: He only faced them twice this season, but it wasn't his best line. He had a 4.50 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 12 innings. The Tigers lost both of those games. The good news for Tigers fans is the last time Verlander saw the Yankees was all the way back on May 2. Since then, he is 22-2 with a 2.08 ERA. In three career starts in the New Yankee Stadium, Verlander is 0-2 with a 4.00 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. But again, he's been the best pitcher in baseball since he's been there.

Sabathia vs. Tigers: Same as Verlander, Sabathia's seen Friday's opponent twice this season, but the last time was early May (the 3rd). He was 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in those two starts. In his career, Sabathia has faced the Tigers 32 times -- remember, he played in the AL Central for a long time -- going 15-12 with a 4.54 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. Of course, we have to remember, this includes numbers from the early 2000s, when the Tigers' lineup didn't even resemble what it is now. I'd pretty much discount those numbers, personally, but feel free to draw conclusions if you wish. Home and road splits are similar enough to be negligible for CC.

Full Playoff Coverage
  • Surprised Posada is in the lineup? Don't be. He's hitting .333 with a .938 OPS in 26 career plate appearances against Verlander. Jeter (.357) also has a good career history against Verlander. On the flip-side, Rodriguez (.190), Cano (.174), Swisher (.167), Granderson (.167) and Teixeira (.136) have all been held in check by Verlander. He's only gotten in trouble against the Yankees with walks and homers. He just needs to throw strikes and keep it down. 
  • Again, if you believe the Tigers are so familiar with Sabathia because he used to pitch in the division, you need to look at the actual players. Only two have more than 27 career plate appearances against him: Ordonez and Inge. Two players jump out at me, one of each side of the spectrum. Cabrera is hitting .563 with two homers and 11 RBI in just 16 at-bats against Sabathia. Meanwhile, Peralta is 1-for-17 (059).
  • The Tigers won the regular season series 4-3, having outscored the Yankees 36-33.
  • Remember, these two teams were involoved in a three-team trade that sent Granderson to the Yankees and Jackson to the Tigers -- among several other players -- a few years ago. Guess it helped both teams, huh?
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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com