This is what the Royals starting rotation looks like:
1. Jeremy Guthrie
2. Luis Mendoza
3. Bruce Chen
4. Luke Hochevar
5. Will Smith
With this rotation, it is hard to believe the Royals finished 3rd in the central division. While Jeremy Guthrie pitched extremely well in the later half of the season, he does not deserve to be an ace on any pitching staff. To be honest, Mendoza, Chen, Hochevar, and Smith would be lucky to even be the fifth starter for the Giants or Tigers. To reach the World Series, a team must have quality starting pitching.
Justin Verlander, obviously, is the Tigers’ most dominant pitcher. Also, the Giants rely heavily on Matt Cain in a win or go home game. While both teams have other outstanding pitchers, none make an impact as much as these two aces.
Every time Verlander or Cain step foot on the mound, their respective team knows they should win the game. If either team is
able to score 3 runs, they will win the majority of the time. Another huge aspect of the pitchers’ importance to their teams, besides the mental aspect, is the number of inning they stay out on the mound. Both pitchers are number one and two in innings-pitched for the postseason. This allows the teams’ managers to be able to save relievers for future games. In addition, the pitching rotation in games usually goes in this order, Verlander – Benoit – Valverde OR Cain – Affeldt – Romo. This scenario gives both teams an excellent chance of winning every time.
To compliment these two dominant aces, both teams have strong 2-3 pitchers. The Tigers have Max Scherzer, a right-handed pitcher who won 16 wins in 2012 and is currently 1-0 in the playoffs. Scherzer averages 11.1 strikeouts per 9 innings. The Giants also have a strong second pitcher in Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner is a lefty that stands tall at 6’5”. Bumgrarner was the second man in the rotationf or the whole season and will now be used in the bullpen. He won 16 games during the regular season but is 0-2 this postseason. With his struggles this postseason, Barry Zito replaces him in the order as he starts game one in the series. If the Royals somehow made it to the World Series, they would have Luis Mendoza as their second pitcher. Mendoza finished the season with a record of 8-10. Mendoza actually surprised people with his solid season and his ERA of 4.23. He will never be a dominant pitcher, but he has had enough success this season to get him a spot on next year’s rotation. While they have Mendoza signed until 2017, Guthrie is a free agent this offseason. The Royals are faced with a hard decision of whether to pay Guthrie, with the risk of him struggling like he has before, or to let him go altogether.
While every team in the 2012 playoffs had a better starting rotation, I still feel the Royals have the strongest bullpen. Crow and Holland have been lights out for two consecutive years. Kelvin Herrera stepped up big this year with a very respectable 2.35 ERA and 77 strikeouts. Another nice surprise was Tim Collins who recorded 93 strikeouts. Collins maintained an ERA of 3.36. The bullpen was the brightest area for the Royals all season long.
In the end, I see the Giants winning because of the momentum they are riding. The fans in San Francisco have been an essential part to the Giants’ success in the postseason. The Giants rally when they are in a hole, and they know how to battle adversity. Also, Buster Posey will jump out of the postseason slump he has been in. A major key is how Bumgarner and Zito pitch.
Before the Detroit Tigers stole Prince Fielder from free agency, they were in the same boat as the Royals, Twins, and Indians. All teams in the central division had their eyes realistically set on making the playoffs. With the returning MVP and Cy Young winner in Justin Verlander, the Tigers and Coach Jim Leyland have the edge over every team in the division. Fielder has extremely “heavy” stats with 36 home runs with 120 runs batted in. He can flat out rake. The addition of Prince Fielder adds major protection to third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Along with protection, Prince Fielder sells jerseys and tickets. Oh yeah did I mention he can hit.
Justin Verlander basically puts the starting rotation on his back. He is the overwhelming ace of the ball club. Verlander won 24 games but what is more important to the rest of the pitching staff is how many innings he was able to eat up 251. In those 24 wins he was able to complete what he started 4 times. To go along with Verlander the Tigers have the young prospect Jacob Turner. Turner will never be on the same level of Verlander but will serve as the Tigers 2 or 3 starter for many years to come. As the second pitcher on the staff Doug Fister won 11 games with an ERA under 3.0. Fister has extremely high expectations for the 2012 season. I predict him to win 17 games and play an essential role in the Tigers success. The third pitcher will be former Missouri pitcher Max Scherzer. Scherzer’s major flaw is being about to pitch a consistent season. When hot, Scherzer is nearly untouchable but when he is bad he is brutal. Scherzer should be happy to record 15 wins this season. The 23 year old Rick Porcello is a crafty ground ball pitcher. I expect Porcello to win around 14 games. He can be expected to win 20 games before he turns 26 years old.
The line up that Jim Leyland gets to put out everyday will be headlined by Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera is a 6 time All-Star and has played first base, outfield, and now third base. While Cabrera is a liability in the field, he does more then make it up with his bat. Last year he hit .344 with 30 home runs and 105 runs batted in. An underrated aspect to Cabrera’s game is his ability to play everyday. Last year he played in a total of 161 games. The Tigers hit a major home run with the signing of Cicil’s son Prince Fielder.
1. Center Field – Austin Jackson
2. Right Field – Brennan Boesch
3. Third Base – Miguel Carbera
4. – First Base – Prince Fielder
5. Left Field – Delmon Young
6. Catcher- Alex Avila
7. Short Stop – Jhonny Peralta
8. DH – Ryan Raburn
9. Second Base – Brandon Inge
Expect to see Delmon Young drive in at least 100 runs this year because of the protection he will be giving to Fielder and Cabrera. The Tigers easily have the best lineup in the central division. Alex Avila is an exceptional hitting catcher along with a defense to make him a complete catcher. The do it all Brandon Inge will find his home at second base this year. Inge has experience at nearly every position including catcher, third base, first base and now second. Expect the Tigers to be close to leading the Majors in errors. They have no outstanding fielders and many slow moving pieces in Fielder and Cabrera.
The Tigers will win the central division and can make a push in the playoffs because of their three superstars. Jim Leyland will enjoy smoking his pack of cigarets a game more this year then in years past because of the excitement his lineup can create on any given night. The Tigers will finish with a record right around 92-70. Verlander will be in the top three in Cy Young again and Prince Fielder and Cabrera will be the toughest one two punch in the AL. My bold statement is that Delmon Young will be an All-Star or have over 90 RBI’s. Another bold statement is that a pitcher along with Verlander will have at least 18 wins.