ALDS Game 1 Preview: Orioles vs. Tigers

Sports and Bets — October 2, 2014 at 3:19 pm by

The playoffs are finally here, so let’s get right down to it. The Tigers took five out of six from the Birds this season, but the last time that they played was back on May 14. That’s ancient history, babes. Detroit has a damn strong ball club, boasting the 2nd best offense in baseball and three Cy Young winners. But the O’s are no slouches, either. The Birds have the 8th best offense in the MLB, and despite the Tigers’ big name studs, the Orioles’ starters have actually outpitched them this season. The O’s starters combined for the 12th best ERA in baseball, while Detroit’s starters were 21st. This best-of-five series should come down to the wire, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m ready to run through a fucking brick wall like Tyrone Biggums hopped up on a can of Red Balls.

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ALDS Game 1: Today at 5:37 PM on TBS
Chris Tillman RHP (13-6) vs. Max Scherzer RHP (18-5)
Tillman’s Season Stats: 207.1 IP, 150 Ks, 3.34 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
Tillman’s Last Three Starts: 1-1, 19.2 IP, 17 Ks, 3.20 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
Scherzer’s Season Stats: 220.1 IP, 252 Ks, 3.15 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
Scherzer’s Last Three Starts: 2-0, 20 IP, 20 Ks, 2.70 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

Tillman has gone from the odd man out in the Birds’ 2012 playoff rotation to getting the ball for Game 1. It’s a well-deserved promotion as Tillman has clearly become the anchor of this staff. Tillman will look to set the tone for the series against a team that he’s had success against over his career, despite them consistently ranking among the top offenses in baseball. Over six career starts against the Tigers, Tillman has gone 3-0 with a 3.58 ERA and 1.22 WHIP while striking out 26 batters over 37.2 innings. This season, Tillman has faced the Tigers once. On April 6, Tillman earned the win after holding the Tigers to one run on five hits and a walk while striking out five over 8.1 innings. Fortunately for the O’s, Tillman has been a much better pitcher at home this season. In 18 home starts, Tillman has a 2.54 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. In 16 road starts, Tillman has a 4.31 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.

Opposing Tillman will be 2013 Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer. Scherzer has made nine postseason starts (11 appearances) over his career. He’s 4-2 with a 3.42 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, and has struck out 74 batters over 55.1 innings. Over six career starts against the Birds, Scherzer has gone 3-1 with a 3.92 ERA and 1.36 WHIP while striking out 45 batters over 39 innings. This will be Scherzer’s first start against the O’s this season. Like Tillman, Scherzer has also been a better pitcher at home this season. In 14 home starts, Scherzer has a 2.68 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. In 19 road starts, Scherzer has a 3.49 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.

Orioles Lineup with Career Numbers vs. Scherzer
RF Nick Markakis (L) – 5-for-16
LF Alejandro De Aza (L) – 11-for-43 with a HR
CF Adam Jones (R) – 9-for-18 with a HR
DH Nelson Cruz (R) – 11-for-25 with 2 HRs
1B Steve Pearce (R) – 1-for-3
SS J.J. Hardy (R) – 4-for-23 with a HR
3B Ryan Flaherty (L) – 0-for-5
C Nick Hundley (R) – 1-for-5
2B Jonathan Schoop (R) – 0-for-0

Tigers Lineup with Career Numbers vs. Tillman 
2B Ian Kinsler (R) – 4-for-16 with a HR
RF Torii Hunter (R) – 1-for-4 with a HR
1B Miguel Cabrera (R) – 5-for-13 with a HR
DH Victor Martinez (S) – 4-for-10
LF J.D. Martinez (R) – 0-for-3
C Alex Avila (L) – 1-for-6 with a HR
3B Nick Castellanos (R) – 1-for-3
SS Andrew Romine (S) – 0-for-3
CF Rajai Davis (R) – 0-for-3

Strengths to Watch

  • Nelson Cruz – Not only did Cruz have a huge season, batting .271/.333/.525 with 40 HRs and 108 RBIs, he’s also a postseason monster. Over 34 career playoff games, Cruz has hit .278/.336/.683 with 14 HRs and 27 RBIs. Steve Smith said it best during last year’s NFL playoffs
  • Victor Martinez – The Tigers have a lot of talented hitters that are coming off terrific seasons, and have put up big postseason numbers over their careers, but Martinez’s numbers really stand out. This season, the 35-year-old DH had a career year, slashing .335/.409/.565 with 32 HRs and 103 RBIs. Over 36 career playoff games, Martinez has hit .314/.377/.482 with 5 HRs and 19 RBIs.
  • Orioles’ Bullpen – The O’s bullpen was the 6th best in the MLB this season with a 3.10 ERA. After the All-Star break, they were the best in baseball with a 2.66 ERA. If the Birds are holding a lead after six innings, they have to feel great about giving the ball Andrew Miller, Darren O’ Day, and Zach Britton to close it out.

Weaknesses to Watch

  • Tigers’ Bullpen – Detroit’s bullpen had a 4.29 ERA over the season, which was good for 27th in the MLB. It was more of the same for the Tigers in the second half, as they were 25th in the MLB with a 4.33 ERA. It will be interesting to see how the Tigers use Anibal Sanchez in their bullpen.
  • Orioles’ Defense at Third Base – Over the last 10 games, the Birds have made seven errors at 3rd base. Ryan Flaherty is their best option at third, and typically a solid defensive player, but even he’s made three of those errors. The O’s can’t afford to give away outs to such a powerful offense.

Enjoy the game, and let’s go O’s!

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