Major League Baseball

2011 ALCS Prediction & Preview – Inside The Wheelhouse

Justin VerlanderThe 2011 Major League Baseball season is now down to the final four teams to crown its World Champion for the 2011 campaign. The right to represent their respective league in the World Series is the final step before playing for it all. Which of these two teams, the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers will earn the right to represent the American League in the 2011 World Series and be crowned American League Champions?

Texas Rangers vs. Detroit Tigers

The Texas Rangers make their 2nd straight trip to the American League Championship Series, ironically beating the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS of last year & this year, while the Detroit Tigers return to the ALCS for the first time since 2006, ironically enough, beating the New York Yankees in the ALDS that year as well. This matchup is intriguing as both represent a strong offense (the Texas Rangers) and a solid pitching staff (the Detroit Tigers). A matchup of these strengths will be tested with an opportunity to play in the Fall Classic, the 2011 World Series.

Texas is the odds on favorite to win this series and they should be. They are the defending American League Champions and despite losing Cliff Lee to free agency & Vladimir Guerrero as well, they are possibly a better team than last year’s American League Championship team. Entering this season I did not think I’d be saying those words but it is true, this team is really good, again, and may be better then the team from last season. They are a year older, a year wiser and ready to get that World Series ring on their finger.

Then you have the Detroit Tigers, a team that were favored in the American League Central Division but not by all like their Texas counterpart. The Tigers weren’t even considered to be American League representatives in the World Series nor reach this point. But they are here and ready to play for it all, they have a slight advantage playing for something in a Game 5 situation against the New York Yankees & also playing a much better team then the Rangers did in Tampa.

I truly believe that Games 1 & 2 in Texas will be the foundation for the way this series will be played. In Game 1 you will have the aces going at it as Justin Verlander of the Tigers goes up against CJ Wilson of the Rangers. Verlander is the outright AL Cy Young award winner and possibly AL MVP candidate while CJ Wilson had a breakout year as the Rangers ace after Cliff Lee departed. The tone for this series will be dependent on the performance from these two starters, both whom didn’t pitch all that masterfully in the Postseason in their only starts.

Looking at Game 2 I’d have to believe that the Tigers will turn to either Max Scherzer on 3 days rest from his relief outing against the Yankees in Game 5 or ALDS Game 4 starter Rick Porcello. If it is Schrezer who gets the nod over Porcello it would give Detroit a fair chance to possibly leave Texas with a 2-0 lead heading back to the Motor City. As for Texas I’d have to figure that it would either be Colby Lewis or Derek Holland who gets the start with Holland probably being the favorite to start in Texas while great Postseason starter Colby Lewis gets the nod on the road.

Games 1 & 2 are so important that I believe that either Detroit or Texas leaves the Lone Star state with a 2-0 lead. I don’t think either team walks out of Texas with a victory and that the Game 1 matchup will heavily influence what takes place in Game 2. Whoever leaves Texas with a 2-0 lead will not have to return to the Lone Star state as I don’t see the series going for much longer.

The 2-0 lead will lead me to predict a 5 game series for the ALCS while a potential 1-1 tie makes me lean towards this going the complete 7 game distance. There really is no between here but I believe that one of these two teams enters Detroit with a sure fire 2-0 lead and the World Series in front of them. While I am predicting a 2-0 lead heading into Detroit I expect these games to be intense and extremely fun to watch.

When you look at the offense for these two ball clubs it’s a no doubter that the Texas Rangers have the edge. A lineup with Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre is deadly & may be the best lineup in all of Baseball. Detroit has their hitters in Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez & Delmon Young but they are more or less filled with role play hitters like Jhonny Peralta, Don Kelly and Austin Jackson.

While the lineup is deadly they can easily be overmatched by the Detroit pitching. Case in point, look at what the Tigers did to the Yankee hitters. In the three losses the Yankees had in the series they scored less then 5 runs, in the victories they scored over 9 runs. While inconsistent from a pitching standpoint of Detroit, it is a Yankees lineup filled with Cano, Teixeria, Jeter, Granderson & A-Rod, the Tigers had their work cut out for them & playing the Yankees in the ALDS helps them in the ALCS in my opinion.

Finally we wrap up the comparisons by looking at the Managers. Jim Leyland is a Hall-of-Fame manager while Ron Washington is just happy to be there in Texas. I can’t take away that Texas has made the ALCS for a 2nd straight year but let’s be honest with ourselves, that’s more of the team’s successes then their managers. Detroit is where they are because they are coached well by Jim Leyland. Ron Washington is the proverbial crutch that holds back this Rangers team from being a dynasty, look how he coached them in the 2010 World Series.

As for my prediction I am a big proponent in momentum. No matter how you look at it the human factor of momentum is there in every sense of every sport. Detroit has that momentum right now. They just played in a series where they had their backs up against the wall while Texas (for the most part) could cruise to victory towards the ALCS.

Look at last season for instance, in the 2010 ALCS between the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers. The Yankees won the ALDS in 3 games while Texas went the distance against Tampa in 5 games. Texas ended up winning the series 4-2 and I believe the momentum from the ALDS helped carry them to the ALCS, I believe the same will hold true for the Detroit Tigers as they head to the 2011 World Series.

Prediction: Tigers win series 4-1

Join Bower, “The Sweet Nasty” Chris Cause & myself every Sunday for more NFL & Fantasy Football talk over at www.wheelhouseradio.com!

Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday at www.wheelhouseradio.com.

Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site.

You can follow “The Champ Jeff Peck” on Twitter at www.twitter.com/therealjeffpeck you can also follow Wheelhouse Radio on twitter at www.twitter.com/thewheelhouse and you can e-mail them @ [email protected]

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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