Game-by-game pitching preview of the Tigers first round series

Max Scherzer and Chris Tillman will pitch against each other in Game One of the ALDS.

Max Scherzer and Chris Tillman will pitch against each other in Game One of the ALDS.

The 2014 American League Division Series opens tomorrow in Baltimore between the Orioles and Detroit Tigers. It’s a best of five format with the higher seed Orioles hosting games one, two, and five if necessary. As of early Wednesday, Baltimore skipper Buck Showalter had yet to announce his starting pitchers for any game but the opener, but here are the likely matchups. The Tigers’ starters are official.

Series Schedule

Game One
Thursday, October 2 at Baltimore (Camden Yards)
5:37 PM EST on TBS

Max Scherzer (18-5, 3.15 ERA) vs. Chris Tillman (13-6, 3.34 ERA)

Tillman is making his postseason debut while Mad Max is an old pro at this and pitched brilliantly last season in Detroit’s postseason run. Tillman defeated the Tigers in early April in a strong start, but his strikeout rate dipped a little bit in 2014 and some have wondered whether the workload the last two seasons after being coddled a bit his first four years, has wore on him.

Game Two
Friday, October 3 at Baltimore (Camden Yards)
Noon EST on TBS

Justin Verlander (15-12,  4.54 ERA) vs. (probably) Wei-Yin Chen (16-6, 3.54 ERA)

Chen is a lefty who throws to contact and will give up the home run. He made one start two seasons ago against the Yankees in the ALDS and pitched well. He doesn’t throw hard and the right-handed meat of the order for the Tigers will have to tee off on him — it might be their best chance in this series to put up some big runs. Verlander has been a beast in the ALDS in his career (4-0 with a 1.79 ERA in seven starts with 60 K’s in 45 1/3 innings). Last year he got hot late in the regular season and carried it into the playoffs, this year he was great in his last two starts, winning both as he allowed just two runs and surrendered no walks against 10 K’s. If he has recaptured his form and can be close to the JV of 2011-12, the Tigers can roll through these playoffs.

Game Three
Sunday, October 5 at Detroit (Comerica Park)
3:30 PM EST on TBS

(Probably) Bud Norris (15-8, 3.65 ERA) vs. David Price (15-12, 3.26 ERA)

Finally pitching regularly for a good team, Norris won a career high 15 games and pitched well in September, posting a 2.08 ERA and going 4-0 this past month. Like most of the Baltimore hurlers, Norris doesn’t strike out a lot of batters but he also doesn’t walk many, he likes to keep the ball down. Price is a workhorse who can carry his team late into the game once he’s given a lead. Manager Brad Ausmus has shown that he will let the big lefty go into the 8th and 9th innings even when clinging to a one-run lead.

Game Four (if necessary)
Monday, October 6 at Detroit (Comerica Park)
Time to be determined on TBS

(Probably) Miguel Gonzalez (10-9, 3.23 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (15-13, 3.43 ERA)

This will be a different postseason for Porcello, who last made a start in the playoffs in 2011. Since then he’s been used very sparingly out of the bullpen by the Tigers in the postseason. But the tall righty has harnessed his command and was the second most reliable starter this year for Brad Ausmus, behind Max Scherzer. He’ll pitch at home where he actually had a tougher time of it this season (4.42 ERA versus 2.66 on the road. Gonzalez is the oldest man on the O’s starting staff even though he’s in just his third big league season. The 30-year old right-hander doesn’t throw hard but he throws strikes. He will give up the long ball and Buck Showalter will not hesitate to yank him early in the game.

Game Five (if necessary)
Thursday, October 8 at Baltimore (Camden Yards)
Time to be determined on TBS

Max Scherzer (18-5, 3.15 ERA) vs. Chris Tillman (13-6, 3.34 ERA)

If this series goes back to Baltimore the Tigers have one of the best pitchers in the game ready to take the ball. If need be, David Price, the AL strikeout king, could be called out of the bullpen on four days rest as well. Anibal Sanchez is also available throughout the series to come in to face tough batters in situations where a strikeout is needed.