This is how I'd rank the Tigers' potential opponents in the American League Division Series:
1. Texas Rangers -
|Matt Harrison under pressure|
It seemed a certainty the Rangers would enter the playoffs with the AL's best record. Now they might be a wildcard entry as Oakland has closed fast while the Rangers have struggled. Despite less-than-great years from Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler,, and devastating season-ending injuries to starting pitchers Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz, the Rangers still have the best overall lineup and bullpen in the AL. They are very strong defensively, too. A lot of pressure is on starting pitcher Matt Harrison. Is he really an ace? Derek Holland has been a disappointing. The Tigers should be confident against the Rangers starting pitchers, but that lineup and bullpen remain exceptional.
2. The New York Yankees -
|Granderson leads Yanks lefty thunder |
The Tigers have had the Yankees number in the postseason, knocking them out of the ALDS two of the last six years. The Yankees are getting a little ripe, and there is no Mariano Rivera out of the bullpen. But it wouldn't wise to underestimate the Yankees. They match up pretty well against the Tigers. The Tigers lack left-handed pitching and the Yankees have plenty of thunder from the leftside of the plate.
3. Baltimore Orioles -
|Chris Davis and O's can rake |
The Orioles. although not playoff-tested, have won this season because of a solid lineup that has gotten contributions throughout, and because of a superior bullpen. Everybody talks about Adam Jones as a great player, and they should, but Chris Davis has been very important for Orioles. Their starting pitching is questionable.
4. Oakland A's -
|Bob Melvin's A's amazing|
Honestly, I don't know how the A's have done it. Their lineup is mediocre and their pitching has been fluky good. But they do the fundamental things of baseball well, which the Tigers often do not. And a club does not win more 90 games, like the A's playing in a strong division, and not be a threat during the postseason. If I had vote for Manager of the Year, I'd give it to Bob Melvin. He's done the done the most with the least.