Another masterful performance from the starting rotation has the Detroit Tigers two wins away from their first World Series appearance since 2006.
So Motor City, can you taste it?
With three games upcoming at Comerica Park, Detroiters have reason to believe that their blessed boys will drive a stake through the Yankees some time in the next week.
And as an impartial observer, I'm buying it.
Five reasons why...
1. Swing-and-Miss Stuff
Among baseball's final four, no starting rotation is better at punching out opponents than Detroit's.
Each one of the Tigers' postseason starters—Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, and Anibal Sanchez —struck out more than 7.5 batters per nine innings this season and boasted a SO:BB ratio north of 3.45. No other postseason foursome can make either claim.
Translation: Tigers starters are really hard to hit.
Of course, in any month, generating whiffs is a recipe for success. It's one of the few outcomes where a pitcher isn't at the mercy of his defense.
But in postseason play, the ability to strike batters out can carry an extra special situational boon. In games where runs are at a premium, holding baserunners at third with less than two outs takes on added importance. Strikeouts are the best way to do that. And so often we see teams strategize with that very outcome in mind.
Now, when most teams need a strikeout to prevent damage, they're forced to lean on their relief corps—even if that means removing a starter who's been reasonably effective. Take a look at the top K/9 rates in baseball this year and you'll see why.
But not the Tigers. With two starters averaging a strikeout an inning or more (Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer), manager Jim Leyland can ride his horses in situations where opposing manager might have to tax the 'pen.
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