Playoffs? Well yes, actually. The Tigers clinched the AL Central championship in game 160 of the season, thereby securing their position in the playoffs. Their first series opens tonight in Detroit. At the beginning of the season, everyone expected the Tigers to take this division and to take it handily. In the end (indeed, a few days before the end), they took it, but they certainly didn’t take it handily. In fact, as anyone tracking this feature (or, you know, watching the games) knows, this team has been down more than it’s been up this year, and it certainly has underachieved. Fortunately for Detroit, the White Sox, who led the division most of the year, were even worse down the stretch and allowed the Tigers to slip into the postseason.
The playoffs are a brand new season, though, and they start tonight, when the Tigers host the red-hot Oakland Athletics. (The ghost of Brandon Inge undoubtedly haunts this series.) There are some good points and some bad points for the Tigers as they enter the postseason. The regular season pretty well illuminated the bad parts. As for the good parts, the abbreviated nature of postseason series should allow Detroit to hide most of its weaknesses, which generally relate to depth. Pitching rotations and rhythms take on a whole new feel in the playoffs, which is a good thing for this Tiger team, which as a bullpen that is unreliable, to say the least. Local talk radio has been critical of manager Jim Leyland’s lineup decisions, but he seems very focused on putting his best offensive lineup on the field for the playoffs, and no longer appears interested in jockeying the batting order.
The first pitch of the A’s-Tigers series– a five-gamer– is just under an hour away, and Justin Verlander will be on the mound for the home team.
You forgot about J(ustin Verlander) – 10/1
Get perspective – 9/12
Everybody knows this is nowhere – 8/31
Now it’s just offensive – 8/29
Explode! – 7/23
Halfway at the Half-way – 7/9
Interleague Play – 6/26
Call the Experts! – 5/26
Recipe for a Slumpbuster – 5/2
Delmon Young Swings and Misses – 4/30
Brennan Boesch’s Birthday – 4/12
Tigers open 2012 season with Sawks sweep – 4/9