By now, you've heard that Game 1 of the ALDS is suspended. (I realize the MLB phrased it as being "postponed" but they should call it a suspension.) It will be continued at 8:37 p.m. eastern on Saturday. The teams will play at 3:07 p.m. Sunday. Monday will return to Detroit and 8:37 p.m. At that point, the schedule will continue as normal.
The MLB has said there will be no double headers in the postseason, so here are the pitching matchups based on the manager's postgame comments:
Game 1 (continued): Doug Fister vs. Ivan Nova
Game 2: Max Scherzer vs. Freddy Garcia
Game 3: Justin Verlander vs. CC Sabathia
Game 4: Rick Porcello vs. TBA (AJ Burnett?)
Game 5: Doug Fister vs. TBA (assuming Nova)
I mean, I hate to let my gut do the talking here, but that sure looks like it favors the Tigers on paper, doesn't it? That might not be the way the national media wants to paint it, but when have they known anything, anyway?
I suppose it depends on your feelings on the Doug Fister vs Ivan Nova matchup. It turns out, this is the pitching duel that will be played twice. Yankees fans and the media will point out Nova is a pretty solid pitcher. He has 16 wins and an ERA of 3.57. He also had some of the best run support of starting pitcher in the league, and results that out-paced statistical expectations (4.16 xFIP). Fister, meanwhile, had a 2.83 ERA, 3.02 FIP and 3.61 xFIP on the year. He has 6.1 strikeouts per nine innings and just 1.50 walks. In Detroit, he struck out batters at an even higher rate and walked them even less often. So Fister has been pretty good. I don't think you'll find a Tigers fan concerned about Fister taking the ball twice in the series.
Sunday will see Max Scherzer against Freddy Garcia. Now that's a strange matchup if I've heard one. A real contrast of styles. Scherzer the hard-throwing strikeout artist, Garcia the slow-throwing finesse guy. One concern will certainly be Scherzer pitching in Yankee Stadium. He's allowed too many home runs this year, which is why his ERA of 4.43 is way higher than his xFIP of 3.70. And of course, we talked about Garcia earlier today. He's coming off a bad month of baseball. He hasn't pitched particularly great against Detroit in the past few years. He doesn't keep it on the ground either.
One interesting point noted at Fangraphs was that Garcia and Nova both rely on the slider, which has caused the Tigers problems. On the other hand, Game 4's likely starter, AJ Burnett, uses a changeup, which is a pitch the Tigers hit pretty well.
Fangraphs also noted about Garcia and Burnett:
In comparing him to A.J. Burnett, we see that Garcia has only produced a negative WPA in 38% of his starts, whereas Burnett stands at 59%. Burnett has also been torched more frequently, as he has had eight starts this season with a -.200 WPA or worse, compared to just four times from Garcia.
So you have to like the fact the Yankees are forced to pitch a player they first wanted to avoid putting on the mound. Meanwhile Rick Porcello was going to pitch anyway.
So like I said, I feel pretty good about what the weather has done to the pitching matchups of the series. Just as long as we don't see Brad Penny forced into action, anyway!
One concern noted by the Detroit News' Tony Paul was that the Tigers cannot change their lineup against the right-handed Nova without making substitutions, because Saturday's game is technically a continuation of Friday's game. So there's no re-starts on the batting order. That means Brandon Inge rather than Wilson Betemit continues in the lineup at third base, and Ryan Raburn at second base rather than Ramon Santiago.
Disadvantages, maybe. But not the end of the world. For one, Ivan Nova doesn't really dominate once side of the plate better than the other. For his MLB career he has a reverse split. Right-handers have more power and a .725 OPS vs him. Lefties are .697. Second, Don Kelly could be used as a defensive substitution at third base if Leyland chose to swap in Betemit. It would probably be smart to keep Raburn in the game at second, so the Tigers don't get caught without a second baseman in case the worst happens. Raburn has been hot in the second half though, so I'm OK with that.
So that's how I see things. What do you thing the implications of the suspended game are?