Excitement is growing all over Detroit and surrounding cities as the Tigers are back into the postseason once again.
After a dramatic finish to a tumultuous regular season, Detroit is ready to host a surging Oakland Athletics team on Saturday.
While most, if not all, Detroit fans know about the offensive highs and lows of this team, it is the starting pitching that will carry the Tigers to the World Series.
Overall, the Tigers had some relatively decent success against the A's this season, as they played seven total games and won four of them.
In these games, Tigers' pitchers accumulated a 5.31 ERA, which is obviously not very impressive. However, they were able to earn their third highest K/9 ratio at 10.9 (The other two teams for which they earned higher K/9 ratios were national league teams).
Individually, Fister has had some success against the Athletics' lineup while Sanchez most certainly struggled in his last start.
On May 12th, Fister went six innings deep in Oakland while giving up five hits and only one run. However, the bullpen could not hold, and they managed to yield another three hits and two runs. The Tigers went on to lose the game by a score of 3-1.
Fister, however, was able to control the Oakland lineup fairly well. He totaled eight strikeouts while only giving up two walks. Even though he was able to do his part, the Tigers lineup provided very little run support.
In an effort to help the Tigers stay afloat during the ALDS, Fister will be relied on heavily to provide a quality start following Justin Verlander. Fister has improved as the season has progressed, and he has shown flashes of the dominant 2011 Doug Fister, including his amazing ten-strikeout performance against the Royals where he struck out an AL record nine straight batters.
If Fister is able to show the control and game management skills that he illustrated during his complete-game win against Minnesota, Detroit will be in good hands when he takes the mound.
Anibal Sanchez, however, was roughed up in a bad way during his recent start against Oakland at Comerica Park on September 20th.
He went only 5.2 innings, giving up five runs on six hits. Even though he was able to accumulate eight strikeouts and limit himself to two walks, he lacked any semblance of control for most of the outing.
Sanchez has been slowly improving during his time in Detroit, even though it goes largely unnoticed throughout most of the league.
In 74.2 innings, Sanchez has a 3.86 ERA along with 57 strikeouts and 15 walks while in a Tigers uniform. He has actually earned his lowest regular-season walks total since 2009 (He currently has 48 total. He had 64 in 2011, 70 in 2010, and 46 in 2009).
Like Fister, Sanchez has the ability to be a phenomenal pitcher. The Tigers brought him over from Miami for just this reason. For example, on September 25 against Kansas City, which was the start directly after his rough outing against Oakland, Sanchez threw a gem.
Sanchez went the complete nine innings, and he surrendered only three hits, one run, and only yielded one walk to the young Royals team.
While there is no doubt that the Oakland Athletics are a much more complete ball club than Kansas City, as they have the lethal combination of power pitching and hot bats, this outing was a positive for both Sanchez and this hungry Tigers team.
Overall, both Fister and Sanchez match up well against the Oakland A's, but it will come down to their obvious abilities to be game changers for Detroit. If these two pitch as they are capable, there is no doubt, provided the Tigers' offense performs to their potential, that Detroit will be able to beat Oakland and advance to the ALCS.
Prediction: Detroit Wins Series, 3-2 (Game 5 Win)