Preview: A’s @ Tigers ALDS Game 4
Good win yesterday afternoon as the A’s bats finally came alive tagging Anibal Sanchez for three home runs. It was good stuff and the A’s hope it continues today. Last night in Los Angeles, Don Mattingly – who seems to be on the hot seat – opted to start his ace Clayton Kershaw to “ensure” a Dodgers victory over Atlanta. While I don’t care for wins and losses as a telling statistic, the point is that the Dodgers didn’t win because of Kershaw. In fact when he left the Dodgers and Braves were tied. Would Ricky Nolasco have blown it? Not necessarily. Could he have put up numbers that are no different than those that Kershaw put up? Sure why not. I disagreed with the decision as the Dodgers had they lost could still head to Atlanta and throw Kershaw there in a Game Five. That said, one could make the argument for Jim Leyland to go to his ace in Max Scherzer on short rest as the Tigers face a win or go home situation – he is said to be contemplating using him out of the bullpen which would result in Justin Verlander starting Game Five (what an awful backup plan for the poor Tigers there). Regardless of that fact the Tigers will go with Doug Fister, who is far from a bad number four starter as he put up a 3.67 ERA and 3.26 FIP in 208 2/3 innings of 6.9 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9 baseball this season for a solid 4.5 WAR. He will square off against the weakest link in the A’s playoff rotation: Dan Straily who threw 152 1/3 innings of 7.3 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 1.0 HR/9 baseball to add up to a 3.96 ERA and 4.05 FIP and 1.9 WAR in 2013.
Bob Melvin trots out the same lineup as last night as well – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it: Coco Crisp CF, Josh Donaldson 3B, Jed Lowrie SS, Brandon Moss 1B, Yoenis Cespedes LF, Seth Smith DH, Josh Reddick RF, Stephen Vogt C, Eric Sogard 2B. It is clear that run prevention is being favored over offensive production but can we say that strategy has worked? The A’s took the lead with Alberto Callaspo in the lead, so if you take out game two it seems a 50/50 proposition that it works out. As we all know, I am not a big fan of Sogard who is now 0-for-8 in this ALDS. Especially given their history against Fister (Callaspo, 6-for-17 with a HR; Sogard 2-for-8) I’d again rather see Callaspo in the lineup. The other A’s have some experience against Fister from his time with the Mariners and have hit him rather well as Coco has a 7-for-19 with two triples mark against him and Lowrie has hit 4-for-12 with two doubles off the lanky righty.
Leyland is sending out the same lineup that he did last night sticking with his offense first philosophy: Austin Jackson CF, Torii Hunter RF, Miguel Cabrera 3B, Prince Fielder 1B, Victor Martinez DH, Jhonny Peralta LF, Alex Avila C, Omar Infante 2B, Jose Iglesias SS. These Tigers have hit well against Straily with in particular Hunter hitting in exceptionally well: 10 plate appearances where he has hit 7-for-10 with a double and three home runs, his only outs being via the strikeout (three). Straily will need to solve Hunter and the rest of today’s lineup who are hitting a combined .429/.467/.786 against him (that said a lot of those numbers are Hunter numbers from his time with the Angels). Those are some scary numbers. Straily got a win in his only game against Detroit this year on August 28th in Detroit though he wasn’t that sharp (1.50 ERA but a 4.88 FIP) in six innings of one run, eight hit (including a HR) two walk and four strikeout performance. Big concern for me is if the wind is blowing like it was yesterday a fly ball pitcher like Straily who has a history of surrendering home runs (1.3 HR/9 in his career, 1.0 this year) could have some trouble with the Detroit potent lineup – despite their recent troubles.