Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers (-187, 7.5)
The Oakland Athletics have been in playoff mode for the better part of the last six weeks and needed a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers to complete a comeback from 13 games out to win the American League West. The Detroit Tigers wrapped up the Central a little earlier and have had a chance to rest and line up the rotation for the Division Series. The Tigers will send reigning Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander in Game 1.
Verlander has been arguably the best pitcher in the AL during the regular season for the last handful of years but has never pitched well in the postseason, owning a 3-3 record with a 5.57 ERA in eight total starts. But at least Verlander has some playoff experience, whereas the Oakland staff is full of playoff first-timers. The Athletics cruise into the series having won six straight and eight of their last nine. They did hit a rough stretch on a road trip a couple weeks back, dropping six of 10 - including two of three at Detroit. Oakland was outscored 18-4 in the first two games of that series but bounced back to take the rubber game 12-4.
TV: 6:07 p.m. ET, TBS
WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the high-40s under partly cloudy skies. Winds will blow out to left field at 12 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Athletics RH Jarrod Parker (13-8, 3.47 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64)
Parker, like most of his teammates, is new to the playoff experience but was a big part of the surge the carried the team through the month. The rookie right-hander showed few signs of fatigue in his first full season, going 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA over his final six starts. Parker faced Detroit at home on May 13 and suffered the loss after allowing two runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings. Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera went 2-for-3 with an RBI off Parker in that contest.
Verlander again has a strong case for the Cy Young Award after leading the majors with 239 strikeouts. He finished the campaign by going 4-0 with a 0.64 ERA in his final four turns. One of those wins came against Oakland on Sept. 19, when he scattered five hits over six scoreless innings while striking out five. Verlander has fared well against the A’s in his career, owning a 7-5 record with a 2.38 ERA in 13 career starts - including two wins in as many outings this season.
* Over is 5-0 in the last five meetings in Detroit.
* Tigers are 6-1 in their last seven games vs. a right-handed starter.
* Athletics are 7-1 in their last eight Saturday games.
* Over is 5-0 in Athletics last five vs. American League Central.
1. The Oakland lineup led the major leagues in strikeouts with 1,387 and will be going against the two starting pitchers (Verlander and Max Scherzer) who punched out the most batters during the regular season.
2. Cabrera went 14-for-29 (.483) with three homers and 14 RBIs in seven games against the A’s this season.
3. The Tigers took four of the seven meetings during the regular season and swept the A's in the 2006 ALCS - Oakland's last trip to the playoffs.