With the Tigers' offense stifled and his leadoff hitter abysmal, Tigers manager Jim Leyland shook things up a bit with his ALCS Game 4 lineup. Though it looks dramatic, in fact the sequencing of the players probably won't play much of a factor after the first time through.
The gist of it: Austin Jackson moved down to eighth in the order and everyone else was pushed up a spot. Now Torii Hunter leads off and Miguel Cabrera bats seconds, with Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta the new 3-4-5 of the order.
Jackson, who is often the catalyst behind the Tigers' run scoring, has been awful in the postseason: 3-for-33 with 18 strikeouts. He's walked twice. He is coming off a down year, though last year's .300/.377/.479 was not likely to be repeated. But nothing about his September -- .278 average, .307 on-base percentage -- would have predicted such a dramatic fall.
Torii Hunter, who batted .304/.344/.465 this year sounds like a good solution, but of course he's kind of disappeared this postseason, too. A .189/.222/.212 line is still not what you'd like to see from your leadoff batter.
And we haven't even mentioned Miguel Cabrera has largely become a singles hitter who can't move well around the bases due to injury or that Fielder, who is at least batting .276, has yet to record an RBI this postseason.
Leyland's press conference has yet to begin, but he'll likely cite Hunter's .437 batting average against Red Sox starter Jake Peavy as a driving motivation (though, interestingly, Jackson's .321 is the second-best on the team.) Sample size warnings and all that, but Peavy's had past success against most of the day's lineup, so Leyland better hope the numbers don't follow too closely to past script.
Jim Leyland on today's lineup: "There's not much speed up there, but the speed up there was not getting on base."— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) October 16, 2013
Leyland on #Tigers' lineup shuffle: "We've only scored one run and no runs in two of the games, so it certainly can't hurt."— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) October 16, 2013
Leyland said he moved Jackson down in the order to relax him a bit. "Magnitude of leadoff spot -- strikeouts -- get to you a little bit," he said. "Refresh him a little bit. Got Hunter, Cabrera, Fielder in first."
Leyland: "Hey, postseason, let's try something. I'm not afraid to try something."— Jason Beck (@beckjason) October 16, 2013
Will the moves work? Who's to say. But right now, you can say this much: Leyland sure doesn't have much to work with. It seems a long time since the days of the Tigers' offense that put up the second-most runs in the league this year, doesn't it?
Do you think Leyland should have gone even more dramatic, working to get Jhonny Peralta into the top four? Or will this be enough to get things back in motion?
The game is set for an 8:07 p.m. ET first pitch at Comerica Park. Boston leads the series, 2-1.
P: Doug Fister