Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics
Momentum must be renewed when teams get to the post-season. So all the energy built up by the Oakland A’s in their improbable run to the American League West title must be built up again on the road against the Detroit Tigers in Saturday’s American League Divisional Series match-up. Unfortunately for fans of the underdog, it’s unlikely to happen for Oakland in this one.
While the A’s did win more games in the regular season than the Tigers, Detroit gets to reset with Justin Verlander on the pitcher’s mound. Verlander offered yet another fantastic season, going 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA while leading the league in strikeouts. He’s always pitched well at home (66-25 with 3.00 ERA lifetime in Detroit compared to 58-40 with a 3.79 ERA on the road; this year he was 9-2 at home with a 1.65 ERA compared to 8-6 with a 3.57 road ERA). He also has a history of success against Oakland: 2.38 ERA in 13 starts. In his two starts against the A’s in 2012 he was 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA.
The Athletics' projected starter, Jarrod Parker, has been great for the club, but he’s struggled on the road in 2012 (4.54 ERA away compared to 2.61 at home) and has faded in the second half, posting a 3.92 ERA versus a 2.96 in the first. At least for one day, the dream of domination from the A’s – on at 2.60 – will end at the hands of the Tigers (1.50).
San Francisco Giants v Cincinnati Reds
A battle of two aces will result in a low-scoring affair at AT&T Park in the National League Divisional Series tilt. Reds starter Johnny Cueto has been magnificent this year, going 19-9 with a 2.78 ERA. But what’s particularly impressive about his performance is he pitched just as well on the road (2.77 ERA) as he did at home (2.79 ERA). In his one start at AT&T Park he threw well, going six innings and giving up just two runs. His control wasn’t quite there in that game (he walked four), so expect a better performance in this one.
As for the Giants’ starter, Matt Cain, he’s been brilliant at home, posting an 8-3 record with a 2.03 ERA (compared to 8-2 with a 3.56 ERA away). The Reds did get the better of him in two contests (Cain was 0-2 with a 5.54 ERA against Cincinnati), but his historical excellence in the post season – he’s 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 21 1/3 lifetime playoff innings – should suggest a bounce back. Teams traditionally play conservatively looking to manufacture runs in the playoffs. This generally leads to less scoring so take under 6.5 runs at 1.81 instead of the over at 2.00.