Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde guaranteed the Tigers would beat the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series.
That's a pretty bold prediction, given that the Yankees were the best team in the American League in 2011.
But, he may not be wrong. Here are three reasons the Tigers can and will beat the Yankees this week.
The Yankees have their ace going on Monday night in Game 3 in CC Sabathia.
The problem is, the Tigers have their ace going as well: Justin Verlander.
Verlander was 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA during the regular season and is getting serious consideration for the AL MVP award.
If Verlander can best Sabathia in this marquee pitching matchup, the Tigers will be in great shape, because the Yankees' rotation is a mess after Sabathia and Ivan Nova.
In fact, A.J. Burnett is slated to start Game 4, which isn't a good sign for the Yankees if they are down two games to one.
Home Field Advantage
The Tigers only need to win two games at home to win the series.
They'll have an easier time winning in Detroit than they did in New York simply because of the size of the field. There won't be nearly as many home runs hit in Detroit as there were in New York, giving the Tigers an edge.
Detroit is better at playing small ball than the Yankees. And with Austin Jackson roaming center field, a lot of fly balls that would be home runs in Yankee Stadium will be tracked down and caught for outs.
Yes, the guy who made such a bold prediction will actually have a chance to put his money where his mouth is.
Valverde had 49 saves in the regular season and is one of the best closers in baseball right now. Oh, and he didn't blow a single save all year.
Mariano Rivera is the best closer in the history of baseball, but he's had his struggles in 2011. He's blown five saves this year, an uncharacteristic stat for the solid closer.
So, as blasphemous as this will sound, the Tigers actually have the edge at the closer position in this series.
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