Our MLB handicapping expert Ross Benjamin breaks down the ALDS between the Orioles/Tigers which is set to begin on Thursday. Read this insightful article which concludes with a series free pick selection.
Positives for the Orioles
The Orioles possess very good to decent power with hitters 1 through 9 in their lineup. The middle of the order provides the bulk of that power. Adam Jones, Nelson Cruz, and Steve Pearce have combined to hit 90 home runs and amass 253 runs batted in. Pearce has especially has been a pleasant surprise, hitting 21 home runs in just 338 at bats.
The Orioles opening game starter Chris Tillman enters the postseason red-hot. The Orioles were 11-1 in their last 12-games with Chris Tillman as their starting pitcher. The right-hander went 8-1 on the road this season. For the Orioles to win this series, they must have Tillman be at his very best.
Zach Britton has developed into one of the best closers in all of baseball. He’s converted on 37 of 41 (90.2%) of his save opportunities this season, and posted an excellent 1.65 ERA.
Negatives for the Orioles
Although the Orioles led all of baseball by hitting 211 home runs this season, they will be without 3-players that accounted for 20.3% of those home runs. Chris Davis (suspended), Manny Machado (injury), and Matt Wieters (injury) won’t be walking through the door to participate in the ALDS. They combined to hit 43 home runs and knock in 122 runs this year.
Can the Orioles other 3-starters handle the pressure of pitching in the postseason? Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, and Miguel Gonzalez went a combined 39-21 this season. Unfortunately, none of that trio has an abundance of big game experience.
Positives for the Tigers
The Tigers have one of, if not the best hitting team in all of baseball. They finished #1 in the majors with a team batting average of .277, and averaged a robust 4.7 runs per game which ranked #2 in baseball.
The starting rotation is potentially the best in the American League, even though they haven’t performed like it. There’s a vast amount of postseason experience between Max Scherzer, David Price, and Rick Porcello. Putting things in perspective, former CY Young winner Justin Verlander is currently the 4th or 5th man in this rotation.
Negatives for the Tigers
The Tigers bullpen is extremely flawed for a division winning team. They rank 24th in baseball with a lofty 4.01 ERA as a staff. The closer Joe Nathan has converted on 35 of 42 (83.3%) save opportunities. However, his unimpressive 4.84 ERA is very concerning.
The Tigers were barely able to hold off the upstart Kansas City Royals for the AL West title. They seemed to be stuck in neutral for the better part of the 2nd half of the 2014 campaign. If they hope to make a deep run this postseason, they must regain their focus on a day to day basis.
This is a veteran Tigers team from top to bottom. If any of the 10-teams in this 2014 postseason can turn on the proverbial switch at this time of the year, they would be my top choice to do so. The Orioles have gone about their business this season in a quiet and very efficient manner. I just don’t think they possess the quality starting pitcher depth compared to the Tigers rotation. Their close Zack Britton can only be effective if the Orioles have a lead to hold late in the game. Detroit can potentially keep the ball out of Britton’s hands for the majority of this series.
MLB Pick & Futures Prediction: Tigers in 5-games over the Orioles