American League Championship Preview: Detroit Tigers vs. Boston Red Sox

10/12/13 in MLB   |   Pat   |   5232 respect

October 10, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning in game five of the American League divisional series playoff baseball game at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsThe American League Championship Series is exactly what the regular season standings said it should be: A matchup between the Red Sox and Tigers, two superstar-laden juggernauts who outpaced the rest of the AL. Here are the probable pitching matchups:

Game 1: Tigers (Anibal Sanchez) at Red Sox (Jon Lester), Saturday Oct. 12, 8:00 p.m.
Game 2: Tigers (Max Scherzer) at Red Sox (Clay Buchholz), Sunday Oct. 13, 8:00 p.m.
Game 3: Red Sox (John Lackey) at Tigers (Justin Verlander), Tuesday Oct. 15, 4:00 p.m.
Game 4: Red Sox (Jake Peavy) at Tigers (Doug Fister), Wednesday Oct. 16, 8:00 p.m.
Game 5 (if necessary): Red Sox (TBD) at Tigers (TBD), Thursday Oct. 17, 8:00 p.m.
Game 6 (if necessary): Tigers (TBD) at Red Sox (TBD), Saturday Oct. 19, 4:30 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): Tigers (TBD) at Red Sox (TBD), Sunday Oct. 20, 8:00 p.m.
*All games will be televised on FOX*

The pitching rotation will likely go back to Sanchez and Lester for game 5, if the series gets that far. Both of these teams have strong starting rotations and have set them up rather nicely for the series.

The key for the Red Sox is doing whatever they possibly can do to avoid Game 7. The Lackey-Verlander matchup is easily the worst possible matchup for them, and they must do everything to avoid running into that matchup twice.

As it is now, the pitching matchups for Games 1 and 2 are as much as anyone could possibly ask for. Sanchez and Scherzer are Cy Young caliber starters for the Tigers, Lester has been incredible lately for the Tigers, and Clay Buchholz has been arguably the best pitcher in the AL when he has been healthy.

The lineups for both teams are rather stacked as well, with MVP favorite Miguel Cabrera leading the Tigers. He's not 100% healthy, but he's still the best hitter in baseball, and has proven that he's capable of changing the game with a single swing of the bat.

One of the biggest differences in the two teams might be the bullpen. The Red Sox are rather confident that guys like Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara. If they need someone to eat up innings, regular season starting pitchers like Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster can provide that.

The Tigers' bullpen can be an adventure at times, however. That may be why manager Jim Leyland said that he would prefer to make the series about starting pitchers. That's a huge strength for the Tigers, and as long as their starting pitchers are successful, they'll do well.

My prediction: Red Sox in 6.
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