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MLB Round-Up; The Fall Classic is Upon Us

Miguel Cabrera

Triple-crown winner Cabrera needs to supply more often than he has shown so far in the playoffs.

World Series Game One between the Tigers and the Giants was not completed at the time of this article.

Back in the offseason, Detroit Tigers’ General Manager Dave Dombrowski went to owner Mike Ilitch and said Prince Fielder was available and was he interested. Ilitch, who is in his 80’s and helped resurrect the Detroit Red Wings, said, “go for it.” Knowing how badly the city of Detroit needed a championship and how much he himself wanted one with the Tigers, the deal was made.

The San Francisco Giants’ drama took place during the season rather than prior to it. Leading the National League in hitting, Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games for violating MLB’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. Around the same time, the rival Los Angeles Dodgers were making deals to solidify their position atop the NL West. Yet here they are in the World Series while the Dodgers are playing golf.

While neither the Giants or the Tigers would have been considered long-shots to make the Fall Classic, they are by no means surprises. Loaded with pitching talent and solid hitters in key positions, the fact that the two teams are here should shock no one. Last night’s game one may have been a harbinger for how the series will go. Eight of the last ten game one winners in the series went on to win the title. There is another factor at play though too and that’s Justin Verlander. Should the Giants be able to best he and the Tigers and that’s of course by any means necessary, then that gives them a tremendous advantage knowing they may only have to face him possibly once more.

The issue then goes deeper than that for Detroit because the back-end of their bullpen is a certified mess with Jose Valverde blowing two leads in the playoffs as if he were pitching the final inning of the beer league softball title game. With that said, Phil Coke who has struggled mightily this season, did an excellent job in replacing Valverde in the closer’s role. The pressure will definitely be on the Tigers’ starters to get at least seven solid innings before having to let the very average bullpen take over.

Barry Zito

Zito has pitched well of late and will need to continue that against the Tigers.

San Francisco will counter with good starting pitching as well and perhaps a steadier bullpen. Although their team ERA was 2.80 in the LCS, which was significantly lower than Detroit’s 1.38, the games were vastly different and saw more scoring period than in the ALCS. With a resurgent Barry Zito, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong, the Giants are in good shape.

If I’m a Tigers’ fan, even though the team hit a very solid .271 through nine playoff games, I know that this offense can go cold in the blink of an eye even with Fielder and Triple-Crown winner Miguel Cabrera in the line-up. The Giants have not hit as well average-wise (.234) but they’ve been able to get clutch hits and even a stroke of luck from time to time if you ask Hunter Pence.

While the Tigers are certainly favored in the World Series, I will not be a bit surprised to see the Giants win this. The competition they faced in the National League playoffs was much stiffer in my opinion than what the Tigers had to deal with in Oakland and New York, especially with the Yankees’ silent bats and injuries. I give the advantage in the bullpen and on defense to San Francisco, while the hitting and starting pitching of Verlander, Fister, Sanchez and Scherzer gives the Tigers the advantage. Because of Jim Leyland’s National League experience, I don’t see an advantage one way or another there. I’ll take the Tigers in six games.

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