Kurt Mensching, the head of SBN's Detroit Tigers Blog (Bless You Boys), took the time to answer a few questions about the upcoming ALDS. Be sure to head over to see my answers to their questions, but remember to represent us well when you visit.
Tell me about Alex Avila. Is he as good as he's played this season?
I wouldn't expect any major changes to his game during the playoffs, though.
The Tigers traded Charlie Furbush for Doug Fister. Make of that what you will.
You should take him serious because he has incredible control over where he puts the baseball, and this year he added a bit of velocity to his fastball and started getting strikeouts as well. In 10 games started with Detroit, he has 57 strikeouts and just five walks. So that tells you a lot right there. Honestly, I can't believe the Mariners traded him.
Miguel Cabrera is a beast, but what makes the rest of the Tigers' offense roll? How do you worry the Yankees might stop it?
Well, outside of CC Sabathia, I don't think I'm going to spend a lot of time worrying about the Yankees slowing down the Tigers' offense. We both know their starters after him are not all that good.
Detroit's 4, 5, 6, 7 lineup is pretty good. From Cabrera at 4, Victor Martinez at 5, Alex Avila at 6 and Jhonny Peralta at 7 (or some mixture, depending on how manager Jim Leyland draws cards out of the deck on any particular day), you have four batters whose OPS+ is no lower than 123. Don't forget to add Wilson Betemit to that somewhere -- we're a bit unclear whether he'll bat 2nd or 8th, as Leyland has been messing with our heads recently. His OPS+ in Detroit is 134 and it was 117 overall this year.
On any given day, Delmon Young shows the potential many saw in him, and he has a knack for driving in runs, too. (Also on any given day he has a knack for frustrating fans. ... You just never know.)
So the offense is pretty good to begin and sometimes really great.
You'll see Betemit. His knee bothered him after a slide into home plate at Oakland and he didn't play much while resting it. He hit a home run his first at-bat after returning. Wednesday he had a double and a triple and ran fine. You'll see Inge as the late-innings replacement if Detroit has the lead, most likely.
Image this: the Tigers' starter leaves the game with 2 outs in the 6th inning. The Tigers are winning by a run, but the tying runs on second base. Who does Leyland bring in, and what's the plan to get through the rest of the game?
Leyland will play the matchups. He always plays the matchups. So I can't really help you much there. The most likely scenario is Daniel Schlereth against a lefty or Ryan Perry against a righty -- both of which would cause Tigers fans to take a snack break in their kitchen so they didn't have to watch -- but you just never know with Leyland. He could go with Al Alburquerque and Phil Coke for all we know.