2011 MLB Playoffs: How the Tigers/Yankees Series Will Be Won

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2011 MLB Playoffs: How the Tigers/Yankees Series Will Be Won
Leon Halip/Getty Images

The weight of the 2011 season rests on the shoulders of Ivan Nova for the New York Yankees and Doug Fister for the Detroit Tigers.

Surely, this is far from the CC Sabathia/Justin Verlander duel of Aces that was envisioned just a week ago.

Advantage: Yankees.

With potentially-explosive bats up and down the Yankees lineup, coupled with the fact that the decisive fifth game will be played in the Bronx, I'm looking for the Yankees to put up a few runs tonight at the expense of Fister.

What would really give me much more pleasure, however, would be a tight game where the Yankees score a few runs off Jose Valverde, who hasn't blown a single save all season long.

He's a bit long in the tooth, and has a penchant for offending quite a few opponents with his body language, as well as his mouth.

What's really interesting about this year's playoffs thus far has been the fact that the majority of the major players dealt in the three-team deal between the Yankees, Tigers and Diamondbacks after the 2009 season are key components of their respective teams success.

The Yankees obviously wouldn't be where they are today without the MVP-caliber offense and defense of Curtis Granderson. The Diamondbacks have their ace in Cy Young-candidate Ian Kennedy. The Tigers have a couple of puzzle pieces in leadoff hitter Austin Jackson and bullpen stalwart Phil Coke.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Upon closer inspection, the most important player at the time of the deal was Granderson, and he remains so today.

Kennedy runs a distant second, despite his 21 regular season wins. 

Jackson, who hit .293 as a rookie last year, was mired in the sophomore jinx this year to the tune of a .247 batting average and 181 strikeouts.

Coke struggled as a starter early in the season, later finding his niche in the bullpen.

The Yankees got the best player in the deal, and he is signed through next season at a very reasonable contract. Clearly, Granderson will break the bank whether or not he decides to stay.

So tonight, with the Core Four down to just three, it's quite possible that a new Core will emerge from the shadows of the old, with Nova and Granderson leading the charge.

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