Miguel Cabrera is going to have to do some heavy lifting against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.
Despite possessing arguably the best hitter (Miguel Cabrera) and pitcher (Max Scherzer) in the American League, the Detroit Tigers are still the underdogs against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.
Also, unlike the Tigers, the Red Sox handily defeated their competitor in the ALDS. The Red Sox outscored the Tampa Bay Rays 26-12 and received solid outings from starters Jon Lester and Jake Peavy.
Regardless of the Red Sox’s upper hand, there are still a few ways the Tigers could pull away with the ALCS.
Read on to see a step-by-step guide for the Tigers to win the ALCS.
Joaquin Benoit has to be the best version of himself against the Boston Red Sox.
Joaquin Benoit has been marvelous all season. The closer posted a 2.01 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 209 ERA+), 1.03 WHIP, 3.32 K/BB and 24 saves.
And even though Benoit has two scoreless outings in the playoffs thus far, the veteran also posted a stinker on October 8. The righty surrendered two earned runs, two hits and a walk against the Oakland Athletics.
To Benoit’s credit, the closer bounced back two days later to save the deciding game. But given the Detroit Tigers’ recent history with bad bullpens in the playoffs, Benoit cannot afford any more implosions.
It's not the bat's fault, Prince.
Usually when a hitter posts a .279 batting average and 25 home runs, a celebration is in order. But when that hitter is Prince Fielder, it’s called a “down season.” Considering Fielder averaged about 37 home runs from 2006 to 2012, perhaps 2013 was a down season for the slugger.
And thus far in the playoffs, Fielder has done little to break out. The first baseman has posted a mere .278 batting average, zero home runs and zero RBI.
As Miguel Cabrera’s protection, Fielder must start producing. And since, according to Jonah Keri and Williams Cohen of Grantland.com, Miggy hits every pitch thrown his way, Fielder’s decline gives opposing pitchers even less of a reason to throw Cabrera a strike.
Jhonny Peralta posted a .303 batting average, park-adjusted 119 OPS+ and 11 home runs in 2013.
When Jhonny Peralta was suspended 50 games for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, it put his 2013 season in doubt. But even when Peralta returned in September, the recently acquired Jose Iglesias was cemented at his former shortstop position.
While the Detroit Tigers have used Peralta in left field and shortstop during the playoffs, the 31-year-old only started three out of the five ALDS games against the Oakland Athletics.
Considering Peralta has hit to the tune of a .417 batting average, 1.167 OPS, one home run and five RBI during the postseason thus far, the Tigers need to find a way to get his bat into the lineup full time.
Manager Jim Leyland would probably prefer playing at home.
The Detroit Tigers enjoyed playing at home in 2013. Of the team’s 93 wins, 51 of them were achieved at at Comerica Park (51-30). By comparison, the Tigers only posted a 42-39 record on the road.
Since the Boston Red Sox possess home-field advantage, the first two games of the series will be played at Fenway Park. Considering the Red Sox owned a dominant .654 home win percentage during the regular season, the Tigers could very realistically face a two-game deficit before returning to Detroit for Game 3.
If the Tigers could defy the home/road splits by taking at least one game at Fenway Park, the team would put themselves in a good position to win the ALCS.