Why the Tigers should win
I know that I should have been more interested in the NLCS than I was, and Game Seven was great watching, but for whatever reason, I just couldn’t get myself interested in it, and ended up watching while thinking about what I was going to do about my house’s plumbing, which is a whole other topic.
Anyway, during the playoff posts and comment threads I repeatedly said that I figured whoever came out of the NL was likely to be cannon fodder to the AL, and I’ve kept at it, writing that either the Cardinals or Mets were going to be mowed down by the Tigers.
Why, in a short series, would I be so certain about that? That’s a good point – in seven games, the chances the better team wins aren’t all that great anyway. I was being cavalier about it. But here’s my thinking.
Pitching-wise, the Tigers have a series of really good matchups. I don’t know that given the layoff I’d have run my rotation out like this, but look at this
Game 1: RHP Reyes (Cards) v RHP Verlander (Tigers)
Game 2: RHP Weaver (Cards) v LHP Rogers (Tigers)
Game 3: RHP Carpenter (Cards) v LHP Robertson (Tigers)
Game 4: RHP Suppan (Cards) v RHP Bonderman (Tigers)
Detroit hit .766 v LHP and .782 against RHP, which isn’t a huge advantage, but the Cardinals have nobody to throw at them from that side. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are .731/.784 and they’re going to see two lefties in four games.
Anthony Reyes is homer-prone, gives up walks, but did get his share of Ks (7.6/9 IP), which may mean that playing him in Game 1 in Detroit could help him a lot.
So compare him to Verlander.
Reyes: 20% line drive percentage, 35% ground ball, 46% fly ball
Verlander: 23% line driver percentage, 42% ground ball, 35% fly ball
But Reyes’ HRs come from a 14% of HRs of line drives where Verlander’s only getting like 10%. But then Verlander doesn’t walk guys nearly as often… it’s not quite the mismatch it seems initially (5.06 ERA to 3.83!!) but Verlander’s had by far a better year. For a Game 1 it’s kind of disappointing this is the matchup.
Then RHP Weaver v LHP Rogers. Weaver’s had a decent offf-season, but he’s not the pitcher Rogers has been all year.
Finally in game three, we get a decent matchup with RHP Carpenter v LHP Robertson. Carpenter’s by far the better pitcher.
But then in 4 it’s Suppan v Bonderman. Please. If Suppan’s good, Bonderman’s better.
What’s more, for all the stat-to-stat matching we can do, the Tigers put up their numbers against a much stronger division and league than those Cardinals pitchers did, just as their hitters, while not statistically that much stronger than the Cardinals, did so in a much more competitive environment.
So I look at this and the only game I’d pick the Cardinals for is #3, while I’d almost call two and four for the Tigers already.
I’m feel like the Tigers are rightly the heavy favorites to take the series, and I think there’s a good chance they’re going to make it short and ugly for the Cardinals.
That said, I don’t understand what Leyland’s doing.
October 13th – Rogers started
October 14th – Bonderman started
… then they’ve had six days off. They could have put together any rotation they wanted.
So who do you logically want to pitch as many times in the series as possible? Bonderman, right? Followed by Verlander/Robertson/Rogers depending on matchups. BONDERMAN. BON-DER-MAN
Game 1: Bonderman
Game 2: Rogers, say
Game 3: Verlander
Game 4: Robertson
Game 5: Bonderman
Game 6: Rogers
Game 7: Verlander
And in that last game, maybe you throw Bonderman in along with the kitchen sink, but likely it won’t come to that.
Maybe Leyland’s thinking he wants the fly ballers to pitch at home. Regular season FB%:
That’s not enough of a difference to justify this. I don’t have good park factors for New Busch, so I’m not sure if there’s a huge LHP/RHP difference, but even then, the current rotation has one RHP, one LHP at home and then on the road.
So I don’t understand what Leyland’s doing if this is indeed his rotation. But I’ve now digressed too far.
My argument is that the Tigers took a much rougher road this season and I don’t see even their on-paper-comperable offenses as equal, defensively it’s about a wash (watching the talking heads today, I don’t think the Tigers are getting nearly enough credit, btw), and the pitching matchups are way, way in the Tigers’ favor.