2006 Amnerican League Divisional Series Preview

Detroit Tigers (95-67, 2nd in AL Central) +280 to win series vs. New York Yankees (97-65, 1st place in AL East), -360, best-of-five American League Divisional Series
by Predictem.com Staff

Two teams headed in opposite directions during the last weeks of the regular season hook up in the first round of the American League playoffs when the Detroit Tigers battle the New York Yankees in a best-of-five divisional series beginning Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.

Not too long ago, Detroit climbed to 40 games over .500 and looked like a lock to win the AL Central Division and grab home-field advantage in the playoffs. But the Tigers lost 31 of their last 50 games, including their last five, three of which came against the last-place Kansas City Royals. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins got hot and took the division title from Detroit on the last day of the regular season, when the Tigers blew a 6-0 lead over the Royals.

New York struggled for a while this season with injuries and shaky pitching. But the Yanks grabbed ahold of the lead in the AL East with the help of that five-game series sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway Park, and never looked back, eventually winning the division by 10 games.

Detroit went 46-35 at home this season and an MLB-best 49-32 on the road.

New York went 50-31 at home this year and 47-34 on the road.

The Yankees won the season series with the Tigers five games to two this year, with the over/under going 3-4.

Nate Robertson (13-13, 3.84) will take to the hill for the Tigers in the series opener Tuesday night. Robertson made two starts this season against the Yankees, allowing eight ER and 24 H+W in 15 2/3 IP. On the season, Robertson gave up 29 home runs in 208 2/3 IP, and Detroit went 15-17 in Robertsons starts.

The Yanks counter with C-M Wang (19-6, 3.63) Tuesday night. Wang started twice vs. the Tigers this season, allowing 5 ER and 16 H+W in 11 2/3 IP. Wang gave up 233 hits in 218 IP this year, but he kept his walks down (52) and kept the ball in the park (only 12 HRs allowed). New York went 22-11 in Wangs starts this season.

These two pitchers hooked up for a good one on Aug. 30, with Wang and the Yanks winning 2-0.

In Wednesdays Game 2, Justin Verlander (17-9, 3.63) will go for Detroit, while Moose Mussina (15-7, 3.51, 172/35 K/BB ratio) goes for New York. The Tigers are 19-11 in Verlanders starts this season, while the Yanks are 20-12 in Mussinas outings.

Game 3 of this series will be played Friday in Detroit. Big Unit Johnson (17-11, 5.00) is scheduled to start for New York, but with his recent injuries, thats not a certainty. The Tigers will send Kenny Rogers (17-8, 3.84) to the mound. Johnson gave up 28 HRs this season in 205 IP, and the Yankees went 21-12 in his starts.

Meanwhile, Rogers quietly had one of his best seasons, allowing fewer hits than IP for the first time since 1998. Detroit went 24-9 in Rogers starts this year.

The Tigers compiled a .329 team OBP this season, 3rd-worst in the AL, and averaged 5.1 runs per game. Detroits 203 HRs ranked 3rd in the league, but their 60 SBs was the 4th-lowest total in the league.

New Yorks incredible lineup posted a Major League-leading .363 team OBP this season, and averaged 5.7 RPG. The Yanks ranked 2nd in the AL with 210 HRs and with 139 SBs. Of course, if New York wants to run in this series, theyll have to try and do it against The Great Pudge Rodriguez.

The Tigers bullpen ranked 4th in the majors with its 3.55 ERA.

The New York bullpen posted a 4.22 ERA this year, 16th in the majors.

The O/U went 68-87 in Detroit games this year, 82-77 in Yankees games.

New York is listed at right around even-money to win the American League pennant and 6/5 to win the World Series.

The Tigers are posted at around 5/1 to win to AL pennant and 10/1 to win the World Series.