2011 ALCS & NLCS
Tigers in 6
One thing that gave the Tigers an edge in their five game win in the ALDS, was the managing of Jim Leyland. When the series went to a fifth game, he did not give into temptation and use ace Justin Verlander in the series finale against the Yankees. Moving on to the ALCS they will have their best pitcher on the hill in Game 1 in Arlington. Verlander has always pitched well against the Rangers, holding a career 2.31 ERA his lowest against any AL opponent. By not using Verlander in Game 5 of the ALDS, the Tigers could theoretically use him three times in this series. This would certainly give the edge to the Tigers, especially with Justin Verlander on the hill in the opener. During the season, Verlander lost his only start against Texas, but only allowed two runs and pitched a complete game. Add in Doug Fister, who was one of the best deadline acquisitions in and the Tigers got the edge in starting pitching. The Rangers have a solid starting staff in their own right, but with the way Verlander has pitched all season you have to like the Tigers chances, add that they beat the Rangers six of nine in the regular season. Look for pitching to be the decisive factor, with Jose Valverde also giving the Tigers perfect relief in the ninth inning as he saved 49 games in the regular season and three in the ALDS without blowing one lead. The Tigers will win this series in six games, with Justin Verlander winning the ALCS MVP.
Brewers in 7
Nobody should be surprised that the Brewers are playing in the NLCS, as they have been one of the best teams in the National League all season. However, the Cardinals are the big shocker as they needed to overcome an eight and half game deficit to beat the Braves out for the Wild Card, they than stunned the prohibitive favorite Phillies in the NLDS, making them perhaps the hottest team in the postseason. The Brewers and Cardinals played 18 times this year with each team winning nine games. Starting pitching wise the teams are about even, with both teams needing to settle their rotation after playing five game series in the Division Series. The bullpen would seem to give the Brewers an edge with a settled closer in John Axford and a solid setup man with closing and postseason experience in Francisco Rodriguez. So even are these teams that both have slugging free agent first basemen who each can be the difference maker and MVP. In 1982 the Brewers than of the American League, faced the Cardinals in a classic seven game battle in what was called the “Suds Series”, due to both teams connection to the beer industry. In the end unlike 1982 it will be Milwaukee who lives the high life, as they will have the home field edge at Miller Park, which is often called the Keg by their fans. During the regular season the Brewers won 57 games at home, more than any other team. In the NLDS they won three times at home in a series where the home team won all five games. I don’t see this being a home win all seven game series, but it will be dominated by the home team with the Brewers emerging after a seven game battle with Prince Fielder winning NLCS MVP honors.