With the playoffs approaching, every club heading for October baseball is neck deep in scouting reports on potential opponents. Here are Scout.com, we want you to be just as prepared for postseason baseball. We’ll be breaking down each playoff bound team as part of our postseason preview, as well as well as scouting reports on key players. Here’s a look at the Detroit Tigers.
Everyone knows how good Justin Verlander is. But, it’s what Detroit has done to fill in the rotation behind Verlander that make them so dangerous. Doug Fister and his outstanding stretch run give Detroit one of the hottest one-two combinations in baseball and make them especially dangerous in a short series. Fister gets it done in a far different way than Verlander but has been nearly as effective. And, one of the biggest issues teams will face is going to be staying out of an immediate 0-2 hole facing these two guys.
This is a playoff pool loaded with balanced teams and the Tigers are one of those clubs. They lack glaring weaknesses, but the back end of their rotation has to be somewhat of a concern. Some combination of Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer and Brad Penny will fill out the rest of their rotation and none of those names are slam dunks by any means. Particularly against a lineup like the Yankees’, it may be a tough go of it if these arms aren’t on top of their games. And, it makes it all the more important that Verlander and Fister perform at a high level.
Matchup To Watch
Miguel Cabrera, as one of baseball’s elite hitters, seems to give just about every pitcher fits. Unfortunately for the Yankees, he seems to be particularly troublesome for two of their top three starters. Cabrera has a combined five home runs against CC Sabathia and Freddy Garcia, and a career average of .563 against Sabathia.
In fact, Cabrera has a higher average against the Yankee ace than he does versus any other active pitcher in baseball that he has compiled 20 or more plate appearances against. Why is this? One of Sabathia’s biggest weapons is his changeup on the outside corner against right-handers. This pitch, more than any other, plays into one of Cabrera’s biggest strengths. In other words, look for Sabathia to try to attack the Tiger slugger with more sliders down and in as well as fastballs along the belt line. Either way Sabathia will still have his work cut out for him.
As previously noted, Doug Fister gets it done in a very different way from Justin Verlander. His fastball hovers around 90 mph and he relies heavily on his secondary pitches. His slider, curveball, and changeup all get utilized very frequently in his attack. Fister also has a knack for getting his fastball to sneak up on hitters because of his late life through the zone and good deception. Because of that you’ll see more late swings and swings and misses on his fastball than you’d ever expect. He’s the type of pitcher that could be mowing down a lineup on a very efficient pitch count and making you wonder just how he’s doing it.
Let’s face facts. Closers have been the make or break factors for a lot of playoff clubs in recent years. Countless postseason games seem to be decided in the final inning. And, in all likelihood Detroit is going to need Valverde to come up big if they are going to have a chance against the Yankees in the first round. We also know he’s a pitcher who wears his emotions on his sleeve. Sometimes we’ve seen that become a detriment for closers in October. He does have some limited playoff experience under his belt, so the Tigers have to hope that plays in his favor.
Detroit is going to need Martinez to come up huge. There may come a point where teams are just fed up with pitching to Miguel Cabrera. And, the next man in line is Victor Martinez. You’ll see New York try to keep him tied up on the inner third and pound him with the hard stuff, but he’ll still be an extremely difficult out.
Check out all the latest postseason analysis and prospect scouting reports on ScoutingBaseball.com and for more on the Detroit Tigers check out TigsTown.com