Around the dial, dig these ALDS previews, predictions and other good stuff:
First up, our man Cliff over at SI.com:
1. Three Days’ Rest
No need to speculate about when these team’s aces will pitch. Managers Jim Leyland of Detroit and Joe Girardi of New York have already announced it. CC Sabathia will pitch on three days’ rest in Game 4. Justin Verlander won’t. That’s consistent with their histories. Verlander has never pitched on three days’ rest in the major leagues. Sabathia is 3-1 with a 1.01 ERA in four regular-season starts on three days’ rest, three of which came in his final three starts of the 2008 season and helped lift the Brewers into the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. He also posted a 2.45 ERA in two quality starts on three days’ rest in the 2009 postseason, both of which were won by the Yankees on the way to their 27th world championship.
As a result, those two aces, arguably the first and fourth best pitchers in the American League this year, will only face off once in this series and will be opposed by lesser pitchers should their second starts be necessary. That also means that Doug Fister, who went a Doyle Alexander-like 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA and 11.40 K/BB in 11 games after being acquired from the Mariners at the trading deadline, will only start once, even if this series goes the distance.
2. Ivan Nova
Verlander and Fister will still start three times in this best-of-five series, which is good news for the Tigers, who were 18-3 in games started by those two since the latter’s acquisition. In two of those starts, including a potential double-elimination Game 5 against Verlander, the Yankees will counter with Ivan Nova, a rookie who was farmed out to Triple-A in July. That’s a heady assignment for a rookie, not that he hasn’t earned it. Nova went 8-0 with a 3.18 ERA in 11 starts after returning to the Yankees rotation, and really shouldn’t have been demoted in the first place (though one could argue that he returned with greater purpose and effectiveness). However, even over those last 11 starts, Nova’s peripherals have been underwhelming (5.7 K/9, 2.35 K/BB). If the Tigers’ formula for winning this series is taking the three games started by their top two starters, the Yankees’ formula for winning the series just might require winning one of Nova’s two starts against the Tigers’ big two, and if the Tigers take Game 1 behind Verlander, there’s no other way for the Yankees to win the series.
[Photo Credit: Your Very Own Contrapasso]