Tigers vs. Athletics, 2013 ALDS: Tigers' rotation offers plenty of choices

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Leyland has an important decision to make. There may be no right or wrong answer.

Who gets the ball for Detroit in Game 1 of the ALDS? In some ways, Jim Leyland has an easy decision to make. With Max Scherzer a likely Cy Young Award winner, Anibal Sanchez the ERA king of 2013 and Justin Verlander a former MVP, it's kind of hard to find fault, no matter which of the three pitchers he chooses. On the other hand, no matter who Leyland picks, there's going to be a great argument for choosing someone else.

BYB's complete playoff coverage: 2013 ALDS: Tigers vs. A's

No matter what, the Tigers are going to have battle tested players on the mound: All four pitched in the 2012 postseason for the Tigers, which resulted in a run to the World Series, and three pitched for the 2011 team that went to the ALCS. Three of the four are known for striking out batters, and the fourth, Doug Fister, holds the AL record for consecutive strikeouts.

Here's a closer look at the choices:

Justin Verlander

He's the ace. But he's also been the least consistent starter among the three candidates in the rotation and he hasn't shined in the postseason, either. For most of the season, discussion about Verlander began with the words, "What's wrong with." Some even believe he should be sent to the bullpen rather than pitch out of the rotation.

Yet lately we've seen some vintage Verlander on the mound (though, admittedly not against the strongest of opponents.) In his final two starts of the year, Verlander did not allow a run in 12 innings on the mound. He gave up nine hits and four walks, and struck out 22. Earlier in the month, he also shut out the Indians for seven innings in a game that pushed Cleveland 7 1/2 games back.

If Verlander starts, he'll be on regular rest.

Why you pick Verlander: He's your franchise ace, regardless of stumbles earlier in the year. You give him the ball. Period.

Max Scherzer

Scherzer is almost certainly going to win the Cy Young after starting the season 13-0 and later 19-1. Run support helped him, but it's more than that. Scherzer allowed two runs or fewer in 20 of 31 starts. Scherzer had a 2.74 FIP, so like Sanchez he may have pitched better than his ERA. (A common theme given the Tigers' defense.) Among starting pitchers, only Yu Darvish struck out a higher percentage of batters than Scherzer (28.7 percent).

Why you pick Scherzer: He's consistently kept opponents off the board and pitched well in big games.

Anibal Sanchez

With a 2.57 ERA, Sanchez was the best in the American League. Looking at his sabermetric numbers shows he could have had even better results. His 2.39 FIP (a stat based on walks, strikeouts and home runs, rather than hits and runs) was the best in the AL. The only knocks on Sanchez's Cy Young resume was innings pitched -- injuries limited him to two starts in June, limiting his innings pitched to 182. He finished strong, holding opponents to two runs or fewer in four of his five starts in September. Like Scherzer, Sanchez is a punchout pitcher. He struck out 27.1 percent of batters.

Why you pick Sanchez: If he'd been healthy the entire year, he'd probably be your Cy Young winner.

Doug Fister

Fister is obviously the longest shot. Even though he had a terrific season, keeping pace with his 2012 year but with even more innings pitched, he can't make an argument remotely near his teammates.

Why you pick Fister: If he wins the first game in Oakland, the Tigers have a really good chance to pick up two wins out of the next three starters.

Tigers rotation:

Interestingly all three of the chief contenders pitched two games against the A's, and each had one bad game and one good game. Knowing Leyland, it might shake out like this:

1. Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.46)

2. Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90)

3. Anibal Sanchez (14-8, 2.57)

4. Doug Fister (14-9, 3.67)

No matter how this settles out, the one thing we can say for certain: The Tigers have one heck of a playoff rotation heading into the ALDS.

Your turn

What's your playoff rotation look like?

More Roars

Full coverage of ALDS

Sweep by Marlins doesn’t teach us anything

Who should be on the playoff roster?

Video, GIFs, photos: Tigers celebrate Central title

Follow us on Facebook!

Byb-twitter-insert

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bless You Boys

You must be a member of Bless You Boys to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bless You Boys. You should read them.

Join Bless You Boys

You must be a member of Bless You Boys to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bless You Boys. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker