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Detroit Tigers News: Justin Verlander to the main stage

Verlander versus Chris Sale is going to be awesome.

MLB: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Must see JV, playoff edition

Kevin Kernan previews the heavyweight showdown that is Justin Verlander versus Chris Sale in game one of the AL divisional series on Thursday. Zachary Jacobson of the Free Press looks at Verlander’s road to Houston and the impact he’s had with his new club. Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle writes about the mutual admiration society of Justin Verlander and Nolan Ryan.

Jerry Crasnick at ESPN loves the Astros combination of power and contact to carry them through the postseason. The Houston Chronicle has a positional breakdown of the divisional series. Jack Witthaus has a quick look at the business of ticketing the postseason for the Houston Business Journal. And Chad Jennings for the Boston Herald writes that Astros mananger A.J. Hinch comes to the divisional series with a high degree of confidence in his club. Tim Kurkjian wonders if the Red Sox pitching staff can slow the Astros.

To no one’s surprise, Verlander has turned the attention of his charity, Wins for Warriors, toward the greater Houston area as they work to recover from Hurricane Harvey. The former Tigers’ ace remains a class act on and off the field.

J.D. and the D-backs

As most of us hoped, the Arizona Diamondbacks made it through the NL Wild Card game and will now take on the Dodgers in the divisional series. J.D. Martinez didn’t have much to do with the victory, but he sure helped get them here.

The star, and then near goat, of the show, was Diamondbacks reliever, Archie Bradley. Manager Torey Lovullo went to Bradley in the seventh inning, and, needing him to get through the eighth, allowed him to hit with two men on and two out, leading by just a run. Bradley responded in true Wild Card game fashion, smoking a triple up the gap in left centerfield.

Now leading 8-5, Bradley came out in the eighth and promptly allowed solo shots to Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado. He escaped with a one run lead, which his teammates promptly enlarged enough to allow Fernando Rodney to close it out despite a shaky ninth inning. Look out Dodgers.

Robbie Ray was called on to bail out Zack Greinke on Wednesday night. But he claims he’ll be good to go on Saturday for game two of the NL divisional series with the Dodgers.

Indians v. Yankees: The great bullpen war of our time is about to begin

Cleveland Indians manager, Terry Francona, announced his pitching assignments for the AL Divisional Series against the New York Yankees, and there was a big surprise straightaway. Instead of Corey Kluber in game one, or Carlos Carrasco, for that matter, Francona has elected to start Trevor Bauer instead.

The move could backfire, but it keeps Kluber on regular rest at his request. In addition, Francona can feel free to empty a bullpen now backed by Danny Salazar and Mike Clevinger, while they’re all still fresh in game one should Bauer falter. Interesting strategy as long as Bauer doesn’t get hammered out of the game in the early innings. The Yankees will counter with Sonny Gray in game one.

David Schoenfeld looks at the Yankees’ keys to taking down the Indians. Nate Silver’s projections like the Indians to win it all. But Ben Lindbergh at the Ringer says the Yankees are built to play the bully instead of the underdog this postseason. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs agrees.

Around the horn

Grant Brisbee gives you three reasons to root for each playoff team. Jose Bautista’s option was declined by the Blue Jays.

Chris Mitchell of FanGraphs looks at some of the prospects the KATOH system missed out on in 2017. Meanwhile, prospect guru Eric Longenhagen has reports from the Instructional Leagues. Wayne Cavadi looks at the Florida State League’s most promising future stars in 2017.

Baseball is awesome