Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander will start Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Oakland Athletics and that leaves no hope the A's will take the first game of this series.
Verlander had another sensational year for Detroit in 2012. The right-hander was 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA and 239 strikeouts.
Oakland will have its hands full in this game. Sporting one of the youngest teams in the MLB, the A's roster doesn't have a lot of experience playing in big games, so most likely this is the most important game of the careers for the majority of the roster.
Dealing with that kind of pressure will make this a tough game to win in and of itself, let alone facing a stud like Verlander.
But beyond that, Verlander's past success against the Athletics this season is reason enough for manager Bob Melvin to be concerned about his team's chances in Game 1.
This season, Verlander has flat out dominated the A's lineup, posting a 2-0 record and miniscule ERA of 0.69.
To make matters worse for Oakland, Verlander had his best month of the season in September with a 5-1 record and an ERA of 1.93. Clearly Verlander is pitching at his best and it couldn't come at a more perfect time for the Tigers.
Stacking the deck against Oakland even more, the team's approach at the plate plays right into the hands of Verlander.
Oakland had more strikeouts as a team than any other squad in Major League Baseball this season with 1,387, and that was 22 more than the next closest team, the lowly Houston Astros.
It just so happens that strikeouts are Verlander's forte as the 29-year-old's 239 strikeouts in 2012 led all of baseball.
The A's are no doubt a talented team, but they are about to run into a buzzsaw with Verlander on the mound, and that will guarantee a Game 1 victory for the Tigers.