Blogs > Out of Left Field

A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to defend their three straight American League Central titles.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tickets for potential ALCS games go on sale Thursday

The day the Tigers begin their postseason run with Game 1 of the American League Division Series, tickets for their potential games in the AL Championship Series go on sale.

Beginning at noon on Thursday, Oct. 2, tickets for any potential ALCS games go on sale at noon, exclusively on the team's website, Sale of tickets through the box office or over the phone begins a day later, on Friday. Limit is 12 tickets per customer.

Should the Tigers beat the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS, and advance to a fourth straight ALCS, they would host at least two, and as many as four games at Comerica Park in the championship round.

If the Kansas City Royals win the other ALDS, the Tigers/Orioles winner would host Games 1 (Oct. 10) and 2 (Oct. 11), as well as Games 6 (Oct. 17) and 7 (Oct. 18), if necessary. If the top-seeded Angels win that series, the Tigers/Orioles winner would host Games 3 (Oct. 13), 4 (Oct. 14) and 5 (Oct. 15).

Tickets still remain for the Tigers' ALDS home games against the Orioles — Game 1 on Sunday, Oct. 5 at 3:30 p.m., and Game 2 on Monday, Oct. 6 — and are available through the box office, or by phone.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Out of Left Field predicts the 2014 postseason

Athletics at Royals

This is why the two teams went out and got the two pitchers they’ll start tonight. Kansas City paid the steep price to acquire James Shields, so they could host their first playoff game in 29 years. The A’s paid the steep price to acquire Jon Lester so they could win in the postseason.

I don’t know if you would consider winning the one-game Wild Card as the second postseason “series” win under Billy Beane, but the A’s move on, regardless.

OUTCOME: A’s win, 3-2

Tigers vs. Orioles
While Chris Tillman has developed into an All-Star caliber pitcher, on paper, the Tigers have four of those to throw at the Orioles in Max Scherezer, David Price, Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello, and one coming out of the bullpen in Anibal Sanchez. Pitching will dictate this series. If the Tigers’ rotation can pitch up to that on-paper reputation — and at times, they have not — then it’s very winnable. Detroit’s staff just has to keep the homer-happy O’s in the yard. The X-factor — aside from the health of Rajai Davis — will be which team makes fewer errors at third base.

OUTCOME: Tigers in 5

Angels vs. A’s

For all that the Angels zipped past the floundering A’s in the second half of the season, the matchup is much more even, given the Angels’ lack of a true (healthy) ace in the rotation. The A’s, like the Tigers, have several. Lester can pitch again by Game 3, lining him up to be ready to start the ALCS, if the A’s move on. It’s up to Jeff Samardzija and Sonny Gray to keep the A’s afloat. There’s something to be said for battle-tested teams coming into the playoffs, too.

The question is whether or not the A’s can score enough. I think they squeak out just what they need to advance again.

OUTCOME: A’s in 5

Tigers vs. A’s

For the first time in seemingly forever, the Tigers have home-field advantage in a postseason series. This matchup won’t be a mismatch of rotations anymore, thanks to Beane’s wheeling and dealing, but rather a test of how the two offenses can do against those rotations.

It may not be a slug-it-out series, but the Tigers do have the better lineup, top-to-bottom, after the A’s had to trade Yoenis Cespedes to get Lester.

Everybody thought this was going to be the matchup at the trade deadline — and then didn’t shortly thereafter. Now it will be.

Verlander remains in the A’s heads, and beats them in Games 1 and 5.

OUTCOME: Tigers in 6


Giants at Pirates

The Pirates really don’t have Gerrit Cole for this game? No, seriously? That’s why you play for the division title, so that you can live if you don’t have your ace in Game 1 of the division series. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle did play for the division title, and got a 12-strikeout performance from Cole Sunday, but the Pirates ended up in the Wild Card game anyway, and are minus their best hope on the mound.

Unless the PNC Park crowd unnerves Madison Bumgarner and the Giants — and, given their postseason experience, why would it? — like it did Johnny Cueto last year, I don’t see the Pirates knocking off the even-year Giants.

OUTCOME: Giants win, 4-1

Cardinals vs. Dodgers

This will probably be the best — or at least most competitive — series of the first round, with last year’s NLCS matchup replayed. It may help this time for the Dodgers to have home field advantage — the road team won one game in last year’s series.

It’ll certainly help for the Dodgers to have Clayton Kershaw, as long as he’s not forced to pitch on short rest again.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny’s never been ousted from a playoff series before Game 7 of the NLCS, but this might be the year for the early exit.

OUTCOME: Dodgers in 5

Nationals vs. Giants

It’s the even-year Giants — who seem to thrive in the postseason every other year — against arguably the best team in baseball. It would be a colossal disappointment, after a first-round exit in 2012 and missing the playoffs in 2013, if the Nationals don’t win this series. They’ve certainly built the team to do it — now they just have to live up to that hype.

OUTCOME: Nats in 4

Nationals vs. Dodgers

The Dodgers may be better at the top end of the rotation, but the Nationals have a deeper one. That may be enough to make the difference in a series that should be evenly matched almost everywhere else. Prediction: Bryce Harper gets his first postseason game-winner before Mike Trout does, and it makes the difference in the series. Doug Fister proclaims it “all part of the process” and “a step in the right direction” after pitching the clincher.

OUTCOME: Nationals in 6


Nationals vs. Tigers

The Nationals would love to have a Beltway Series with Baltimore, but I’m sure they wouldn’t quibble with this matchup, either. The tipping point is when the Tigers get to old friend Fister in Game 4 on the road, and head back to Detroit up 3-1. The Detroit bullpen finally springs a leak, though, extending the series, before the Tigers end their 30-year drought with a home win in Game 7, Max Scherzer’s last start before free agency.

OUTCOME: Tigers in 7

Tigers forget to tarp the field before Tuesday's workout at Comerica Park

Tuesday afternoon's workout was supposed to prepare the Detroit Tigers for the postseason.

Someone forgot to prepare Comerica Park for the same thing.

When the team arrived for its 1 p.m. workout before noon on Tuesday, sections of the infield — left uncovered by the tarp since Sunday — were flooded with rainwater. After a quick conference with members of the front office, an army of groundskeepers started hastily spreading drying agent on the infield to soak up the puddles.

Head groundskeeper Heather Nabozny is on the disabled list, herself, having had knee surgery after a tarp accident a few weeks ago.

Taking the annual stab at predicting the Tigers' playoff roster for the ALDS

[Note: This is just a *projection* and is not to be assumed to be concrete. The Tigers have until noon the day of the first game of the series — in this case Thursday, Oct. 2 — to submit their final playoff roster. They have not made any roster public, as of yet. This projection is based on knowledge of the situation.]

As always, things have a way of working themselves out.

Usually, the biggest question mark in assembling a playoff roster, is which of the five starters will be bumped into the bullpen. Injury answered that question, taking Anibal Sanchez out of the mix for six weeks, and allowing him back just in time for the playoffs, albeit in a modified role out of the bullpen. Theoretically, he’ll provide the Tigers with a “super reliever” who can go a few innings, but he’s only made one appearance since returning from the disabled list, so I wouldn’t expect three innings at a time to be feasible.

The rest of the bullpen is as it has been, for the most part, with Joakim Soria, Joba Chamberlain and Joe Nathan at the back end. Al Alburquerque will be in the mix, as well, as he’s the guy that can come in at any point in the game, and get you a strikeout or two.

The lefty contingent is where it gets messier. Blaine Hardy may have been a lock when September started, but his ERA in the final month is over 5.00, and his WHIP is approaching 3.00. Not what you want in big spots. That probably means that Kyle Lobstein — the rookie starter who helped fill in so admirably in the last month — may slide to the bullpen, where he could also fill the dual role of a long relief guy, something that normally the fifth starter could do in the postseason. Phil Coke — who hasn’t exactly stranded the runners he’s inherited lately — likely gets the edge over Hardy for the second lefty spot in the pen, based on experience alone.

The infield and outfield is all but set, pending the availability of Rajai Davis, after his freak pelvic injury this past weekend. If he can’t go, Ezequiel Carrera will be the starting center fielder, more than likely.

Off the bench, I’d give the edge to outfielder Tyler Collins, simply because he could play any of the three outfield positions, if needed, as well as provide a little left-handed thump as a pinch hitter, and has decent speed as a pinch runner. Hernan Perez has been in that “last man on the bench” role before in the playoffs, but there’s not a ton that separates him from Eugenio Suarez, who will likely come off the bench behind Andrew Romine at short. If Davis can’t go, I’d expect Perez would be the next man on the roster.

With Carrera’s speed on the bench, though, that final spot — Collins or Perez — might not be needed, allowing the Tigers to carry another reliever. They might go with Hardy for a third lefty, or they could add veteran Jim Johnson, who would likely get the nod over Evan Reed or Kyle Ryan.

Here's the roster projection:
(Last year, I got 24 of 25)
Max Scherzer, RHP
David Price, LHP
Justin Verlander, RHP
Rick Porcello, RHP

CL: Joe Nathan, RHP
SU: Joba Chamberlain, RHP
SU: Joakim Soria, RHP
MR: Anibal Sanchez, RHP
MR/LR: Kyle Lobstein, LHP
MR: Al Alburquerque, RHP
LOOGY: Phil Coke, LHP

1B: Miguel Cabrera
2B: Ian Kinsler
SS: Andrew Romine
3B: Nick Castellanos
C: Alex Avila
DH: Victor Martinez

CF: Rajai Davis (or Ezequiel Carrera)
RF: Torii Hunter
LF: J.D. Martinez

C: Bryan Holaday
UT: Don Kelly
UT: Eugenio Suarez
OF: Ezequiel Carrera
OF/PR: Tyler Collins

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tigers schedule for the 2014 AL Division Series

Here's the schedule for the Tigers, now that they're into the postseason. It'll be updated with times, and more information as it becomes available. Click back here frequently.

American League Division Series
(best of five)

G1: at Baltimore, Thursday, Oct. 2, 5:37 p.m.
TV: TBS (Brian Anderson PBP, Dennis Eckersley/Joe Simpson color)
Radio: WXYT-FM (97.1)

G2: at Baltimore, Friday, Oct. 3, 12:07 p.m. (if San Francisco wins NL Wild Card)
*OR* 3:07 p.m. (if Pittsburgh wins NL WC)
TV: TBS (Brian Anderson PBP, Dennis Eckersley/Joe Simpson color)
Radio: WXYT-FM (97.1)

G3: at Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 5, 3:45 p.m.
TV: TBS (Brian Anderson PBP, Dennis Eckersley/Joe Simpson color)
Radio: TBA

G4: at Detroit, Monday, Oct. 6, TBA*
TV: TBS (Brian Anderson PBP, Dennis Eckersley/Joe Simpson color)
Radio: WXYT-FM (97.1)

G5: at Baltimore, Wednesday, Oct. 8, TBA*
TV: TBS (Brian Anderson PBP, Dennis Eckersley/Joe Simpson color)
Radio: WXYT-FM (97.1)

* — if necessary

Tigers still control own destiny; Sunday's AL playoff scenarios

DETROIT — The Tigers didn’t do their part on Saturday.

By losing to the Minnesota Twins, the Detroit Tigers lost all chance of clinching their fourth straight American League Central Division title Saturday night, a bitter pill to swallow when the White Sox held off the Royals an hour later.

“It’s frustrating, for sure. Today was almost a carbon copy of yesterday. A couple defensive mistakes, we didn’t pitch well, and you’re in such a deep hole that it’s tough to climb out of,” manager Brad Ausmus said after the game. “I wasn’t concerned at all going into the game today that something like that would happen again. I’m a little surprised by it but again, we can’t do anything about it now.

“We got a game tomorrow that we gotta win, I mean, we gotta win.”

But that Royals loss kept the Tigers’ cushion at one game, and dropped the magic number to one, as well.

That means the Tigers still hold their destiny in their hands, going into Sunday afternoon’s regular-season finale.

A win or a Kansas City, and they’re division champs again — either one would do.

Otherwise, the two teams are headed for a Game 163 tiebreaker on Monday.

“We’ve got a chance to be a 90-win team, and that’s a big deal,” said Alex Avila, discounting that anything needed to be said. “We’re grown men here. We know the situation. It’s not like ‘Hey, tomorrow’s a big game!’ Well, no (crap).”

If they don’t win Sunday’s game, though, there’s a fall-back.

The Tigers essentially have three straight home games — the regular-season finale on Sunday, a potential Game 163 on Monday, and a potential Wild Card game on Tuesday — to get the one win that would send them to the AL Division Series.

And, they’ll have the last three AL Cy Young winners — David Price (Sunday), Justin Verlander (Monday) and Max Scherzer (Tuesday) — on the mound to try to make that happen.

Here are the American League scenarios headed into Sunday’s games:

The Tigers (89-72), Royals (88-73), Athletics (87-74) and Mariners (86-75) are all still alive for three postseason berths. The Tigers have clinched no worse than a Game 163 tiebreaker, and the Royals have clinched no worse than the top Wild Card.

Baltimore (95-66) and the Los Angeles Angels (98-63) have clinched their respective divisions. The Angels have already cinched up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Tigers win, finish 90-72
Royals win, finish 89-73
A’s win, finish 88-74
Mariners win, finish 87-75

Result: Tigers win the AL Central, and head to Baltimore for the ALDS, starting Thursday. Royals host A’s in the Wild Card Tuesday. Mariners are eliminated.

Tigers lose, finish 89-73
Royals win, finish 89-73
A’s win, finish 88-74
Mariners win, finish 87-75

Result: Tigers host Royals for Game 163 tiebreaker on Monday. Winner takes the AL Central, and heads to Baltimore for the ALDS, starting Thursday. Loser hosts A’s in the Wild Card Tuesday. Mariners are eliminated.

Tigers lose, finish 89-73
Royals win, finish 89-73
A’s lose, finish 87-75
Mariners win, finish 87-75

Result: Tigers host Royals for Game 163 tiebreaker on Monday. Winner takes the AL Central, and heads to Baltimore for the ALDS, starting Thursday. Mariners host A’s for one-game tiebreaker for the second Wild Card slot. Winner visits loser of Detroit-KC playoff in Tuesday’s Wild Card game.

Tigers win, finish 90-73
Royals win (or lose)
A’s lose, finish 87-75
Mariners win, finish 87-75

Result: Tigers win the AL Central, and head to Baltimore for the ALDS, starting Thursday. Mariners host A’s for one-game tiebreaker for the second Wild Card slot. Winner plays at Kansas City in the Wild Card game on Tuesday.

Lineups for Game 162, as Tigers try (again) to close out the AL Central

The Tigers come into Sunday's regular-season finale needing just a win or a Kansas City Royals loss to clinch their fourth straight American League Central Division title. They send trade acquisition David Price to the mound to get that done.

If they lose and the Royals win, there will be a one-game playoff at Comerica Park Monday to determine the division champ.

Ian Kinsler, 2B
Torii Hunter, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
J.D. Martinez, LF
Alex Avila, C
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Andrew Romine, SS
Ezequiel Carrera, CF

Pitcher: David Price, LHP (3-4, 3.97 ERA with Tigers)

Danny Santana, SS
Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Kennys Vargas, DH
Josmil Pinto, C
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Eduardo Escobar, 3B
Chris Herrmann, LF
Aaron Hicks, CF

Pitcher: Kyle Gibson, RHP (13-11, 4.50 ERA)