The Detroit Tigers have reached the World Series once again. After acquiring slugger Prince Fielder in the offseason, many penciled the Tigers in as one of the favorites to go to the World Series this season. After a sweep of the New York Yankees, the winningest team in the American League, the Tigers will be playing in the Fall Classic.
Behind a strong lineup featuring Fielder, Triple Crown Winner Miguel Cabrera and a pitching staff led by defending MVP and Cy Young winner, Justin Verlander, the Tigers made an epic push for the postseason after finishing third in the AL Central Division following the first half of the season.
While guys like Fielder, Cabrera and Verlander will get the majority of the attention when it comes to the media stories, there are a few players who play critical roles for the Tigers that could come up big in the World Series.
Let's start with the pitching staff.
In the postseason, teams typically rely on two stud starting pitchers and have two other starters they use depending on how the series is playing out. The Tigers have one obvious stud in Verlander who will likely pitch Game 1 and can be consistently counted on to deliver in big games.
Max Scherzer has also pitched well this postseason and will also be counted on for big performances in the World Series.
The third guy in the mix is Anibal Sanchez.
After going just 9-13 with a 3.86 ERA in the regular season, Sanchez has gone 1-1 with a 1.35 ERA in the postseason. He lost his first start against Oakland in Game 3 of that series but won his second start against New York in a big way. Sanchez held the Yankees to just three hits in seven innings, and more importantly, kept them off the scoreboard.
With Verlander and Scherzer in the mix as the No. 1 and No. 2 guys on the roster, the Tigers will likely rely on Sanchez for a critical Game 3 start on plenty of rest.
Look for Sanchez to continue to pitch well and likely either put the Tigers up 3-0 or 2-1 in the series, as chances are that either Verlander or Scherzer will win one of their starts.
The other two guys that could come up big for Detroit in the World Series this year are Delmon Young and Omar Infante.
Young is typically the team's DH but could play a critical role in left field as the first two games will be played in a National League ballpark. This postseason Young is batting .294 with two home runs, eight RBI and a .851 OPS. Young is the guy who will be counted on to provide the offense for the team after Cabrera and Fielder. Look for him to have a big series.
Infante has had a great postseason thus far by batting .286 with 10 hits and a .639 OPS. More importantly, he has scored a run in six of the Tigers' nine postseason games. He also typically bats No. 2 in the order right ahead of Cabrera, making his ability to get on base critical for scoring runs.
Look for Infante to come up big and keep scoring critical runs for the Tigers.