The beginning of the Orioles-Tigers ALDS is still a couple of days away. News about the series will be trickling out between now and then, filling in all of the unknowns, including the times they'll actually play the games, which are dependent on the two Wild Card results. It's weird. On Tuesday afternoon, the Tigers started to fill in some of the gaps by announcing their rotation for the series.
It's hard for the Tigers to go wrong in setting their rotation, since their choices include the last three winners of the AL Cy Young Award. Their choices also include Rick Porcello and Anibal Sanchez, both of whom arrived at 3.43 ERAs for the season in different ways. Thankfully for the Orioles, the Tigers rotation cannot include Drew Smyly, who was the starting pitcher for Detroit in two of the O's losses against them this season. He'll be plaguing them in Tampa for years to come, but that's a next year problem.
The Tigers rotation lines up like this, according to Catherine Slonksnis on Bless You Boys:
Tigers ALDS rotation: Scherzer will pitch in game 1, Verlander game 2, Price game 3, and Porcello game 4.— Catherine Slonksnis (@CSlonksnis) September 30, 2014
Some quick and dirty line stats for each pitcher:
Max Scherzer: 33 GS, 220.1 IP, 3.15 ERA, 252 SO, 63 BB, 18 HR, .235 BAA, 1.15 WHIP
That's a lot of strikeouts. Scherzer is not headed to a second consecutive Cy Young unless something very odd happens, but he's still a very good pitcher. This is the toughest matchup of the series, in all likelihood. In their careers, Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis all have fine numbers against Scherzer, but it's bleak for the team beyond that.
Justin Verlander: 32 GS, 206 IP, 4.54 ERA, 159 SO, 65 BB, 18 HR, .271 BAA, 1.40 WHIP
Verlander struggled from May-July, but settled down - relatively, for August and September, in which he posted ERAs of 4.08 and 3.89, respectively. It's been a different vintage of Verlander this year, which could bode well for the O's if that continues into the postseason. Top Orioles performers against him in their careers have been Alejandro De Aza, J.J. Hardy, and Cruz, none of whom have an OPS higher than .810 against Verlander.
David Price (post-trade): 11 GS, 77.2 IP, 3.59 ERA, 82 SO, 15 BB, 5 HR, .243 BAA, 1.15 WHIP
A long-time divisional nemesis who the Orioles will now run into for a different team in the postseason. Price turned in what was probably the finest season of his career, recording more strikeouts and a lower walk rate than ever. O's with good numbers against Price in their own careers include Hardy, Cruz, Delmon Young, and Steve Pearce.
Rick Porcello: 32 G, 204.2 IP, 3.43 ERA, 129 SO, 41 BB, 18 HR, .265 BAA, 1.23 WHIP
Porcello was a perennial FIP-underachiever up until this year, when he brought his ERA more in line with what that stat would predict. What changed to reverse that four year trend? It was the first 200+ IP season for Porcello and the finest of his career. O's with good career numbers against Porcello are Markakis, Young, and Hardy.
Once the Orioles get past these starters, the Tigers bullpen has been an absolute mess so far this season. They're all good pitchers, though, who can and have shut down the O's before. But the Orioles have shown themselves to be a good-hitting team who can beat anybody. Should be a good series.