The Orioles pulled off an unexpected take-down of the Tigers in three games and the finale had numerous big moments.
Of all the possible outcomes in the Orioles-Tigers series, none seemed less likely than an O's sweep. Baltimore faced unfavorable match-ups at every turn, as would most teams pitted against three consecutive former Cy Young winners. But reality often defies expectations, so why would this series be any different? Three eventful games later, the surprising O's are headed for the ALCS.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Once again, the Tigers suspect bullpen loomed large in a loss to the Orioles, but did their manager put them in the best position to succeed?
Game Two of the 2014 ALDS featured a lot of starting pitchers, at least as defined by their regular season roles. Wie-Yin Chen and Justin Verlander only pitched 3 2/3 and 5 innings respectively. As a result, each team went with a starting pitcher as their first pitcher out of the bullpen. All four pitchers (Chen, Verlander, Kevin Gausman, and Anibal Sanchez) pitched excellently their first time through the order. While Sanchez was pulled after facing six hitters, the other three all got to take a shot at their opponent’s lineup a second time and, in Verlander’s case, a thirds time. Those results were bad.
The Tigers face off with the Orioles in a series that features two rosters with very different strengths and weaknesses.
A series between opposites pits the preseason favorite Tigers against the anything-but-preseason-favorite Orioles. The two teams differ in a few other noteworthy ways—one has a veteran manager, excels at defense, and uses a strong bullpen to brace a shaky rotation; the other is led by a rookie manager, struggles at defense, and begs its rotation to minimize its shaky bullpen. Which style will prevail and advance to the ALCS? Let's find out. (Note: Neither team's Divisional Series roster is set, so we'll update the article when the names are officially announced.)
In a repeat matchup, David Price shows the many things he can do, and teaches us something about Abreu in the process.
Even before he received a proper introduction, David Price seemed to respect Jose Abreu. Consider how Price approached Abreu during their first encounter. Price pitched to him three times, and all but doffed his cap with his pitch selection. The intent was clear: Price wanted to keep Abreu's barrel off the fastball, hence why he threw him a changeup in a different situation each time. First it was in a 1-0 count, then as the 1-1 offering, and lastly to begin the day's final conflict, which led to this resolution:
There's little suspense left in the season, but flailing Wild Card hopefuls are doing their best to preserve it.
The Tigers woke up on Wednesday just one game up on the Royals, and they’d face their toughest remaining test of the regular season, a date with Chris Sale, in the early afternoon. Assuming that Sale would be as good as advertised, Brad Ausmus’ squad had only one clear path to victory: keep the game close, boot the left-hander in the middle innings, and beat up on Chicago’s porous bullpen.
Flashing back to Rany Jazayerli's assessment of the Kansas City squad that Moore inherited.
Over the next five days, the Royals and Tigers will continue to battle for the AL Central crown. Today we flash back to June 2006, when the Royals hired Dayton Moore to be their new general manager and Rany Jazayerli wondered whether Moore and the Royals could conceivably follow the turnaround modeled by... the Detroit Tigers and their talented GM, Dave Dombrowski.
At some point, an extreme performance can't simply be chalked up to simple sample size issue. Any team can play .250 ball for a week, or two weeks, or even a month. But it is now the middle of June, and as I write this the Royals have won barely one-quarter of their games--only a narrow victory over the Angels on Wednesday kept them from falling back to exactly .250--over a span of 64 games, or 40% of the season. "On pace" is an overused term in sports, but when we say the Royals are on pace to finish 43-119, equaling the 2003 Detroit Tigers' AL record for losses in a season, that is a pace not to be taken lightly. This team doesn't just suck; it sucks at a truly historical level.
In Steven Moya's first big test, he showed massive raw power and a terrifying K:BB ratio. Which indicator will win out?
Some prospects inspire a strong consensus among scouts. The tools and projection are easy to see; we know a player is going to be good, so it’s only a matter of how good. With other prospects, however, there can be a much wider range of opinions. Two scouts can see the same thing from the same player and come up with two totally different sets of opinions. It happens in the seats behind the plate, in meeting rooms before the draft, and in many of the discussions behind the scenes here at BP. To me, this is one of the best parts about scouting. Sometimes there are no right or wrong answers, or at least not ones we’ll know for a few years.