It has been 28 years since one of the game’s most tenured franchises raised a championship banner.
But the clichÃ©, “All good things come to those who wait” may be the only way to describe how the stars have aligned this postseason for the Detroit Tigers, as Rock City has a chance to celebrate their first World Series title since 1984.
Short game series boil down to pitching, and the Tigers have the upper hand in that department.
Disposing of the New York Yankees with relative ease gave Detroit almost a week to rest their arms and situate their rotation as manager Jim Leyland sees fit.
The layoff not only means extra rest, but also allows Leyland to toy with the idea of having the game’s most dominant starting pitcher, Justin Verlander, on the hill for three out of the potential seven games.
Verlander’s dominance leading up to World Series has been nothing short of legendary, as the 2011 American League MVP has yielded just two runs in 24.1 innings, including a complete game, four-hit shutout against the Oakland Athletics in Game 5 of the American League Division Series.
Verlander has garnered most of the attention and fanfare, but the rest of the Tigers’ pitching staff has peaked at the perfect time as well.
Leyland has already named sinkerballer Doug Fister as the starter for Game 2, and while Fister has not factored in either decision during his two starts this postseason, his 1.35 ERA through 13.1 innings cannot be taken lightly.
The Giants won’t have it any easier with Detroit’s potential Games 3 and 4 starters, as Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer have given up just three earned runs combined over 24.1 innings this postseason.
Offensively, the Tigers have done just enough to complement their stellar starting pitching, meaning the sluggers in this lineup are due to break out.
The AL’s Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera, has been contained for the most part this offseason, as the front-runner for the AL MVP is hitting a modest .278 with one home run and five RBIs thus far.
Cabrera’s protection in the lineup, Prince Fielder, has also struggled with just three RBIs and a .211 batting average through nine postseason games.
Jhonny Peralta, Austin Jackson and ALCS MVP Delmon Young have kept this offense afloat through the first two rounds of the postseason, but it’s scary to think what may happen if the Tigers’ two most lethal bats awaken.
Detroit’s Achilles’ heel looks to be their bullpen, as Jose Valverde has been pulled from his closing role after struggling to seal the deal against Oakland and New York.
Lefty specialist Phil Coke converted both of his save opportunities after Valverde’s demotion, but closing in the World Series is another beast. Only time will tell if Coke’s inexperience will serve as “ignorance is bliss,” or ultimately bury the American League champs.