A capsule look at Athletics-Tigers playoff series

A capsule look at Athletics-Tigers playoff series

A look at the best-of-five American League division series between the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers:



(All times EDT) Game 1, Saturday, at Detroit (6:07 p.m.); Game 2, Sunday, at Detroit (TBA); Game 3, Tuesday, at Oakland (TBA); x-Game 4, Wednesday, at Oakland (TBA); x-Game 5, Thursday, at Oakland (TBA). (All games on TBS or MLB Network)

x-if necessary.


Season Series: Tigers won 4-3.


Projected Lineups:

Athletics: CF Coco Crisp (.259, 11 HRs, 46 RBIs, 39 SBs), SS Stephen Drew (.223, 7, 28 with Diamondbacks and A's), LF Yoenis Cespedes (.292, 23, 82, 16 SBs), 1B Brandon Moss (.291, 21, 52), RF Josh Reddick (.242, 32, 85, 15 assists), 3B Josh Donaldson (.241, 9, 33), DH Seth Smith (.240, 14, 52) or Jonny Gomes (.262, 18, 47), C George Kottaras (.212, 9, 31 with Brewers and A's) or Derek Norris (.201, 7, 34), 2B Cliff Pennington (.215, 6, 28) or Adam Rosales (.222, 2, 8).

Tigers: CF Austin Jackson (.300, 16, 66, 10 triples), LF Quintin Berry (.258, 2, 29, 21/21 SBs), 3B Miguel Cabrera (.330, 44, 139 for baseball's first Triple Crown since 1967), 1B Prince Fielder (.313, 30, 108), DH Delmon Young (.267, 18, 74), RF Andy Dirks (.322, 8, 35), SS Jhonny Peralta (.239, 13, 63), C Alex Avila (.243, 9, 48), 2B Omar Infante (.274, 12, 53 with Marlins and Tigers).


Projected Rotations:

Athletics: RH Jarrod Parker (13-8, 3.47 ERA), LH Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.74), LH Brett Anderson (4-2, 2.57 in 6 starts), RH A.J. Griffin (7-1, 3.06).

Tigers: RH Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64, ML-leading 239 Ks), RH Doug Fister (10-10, 3.45), RH Max Scherzer (16-7, 3.74, 231 Ks), RH Anibal Sanchez (9-13, 3.86 with Marlins and Tigers).



Athletics: RH Grant Balfour (3-2, 2.53, 24/26 saves), RH Ryan Cook (6-2, 2.09, 14/21 saves), LH Sean Doolittle (2-1, 3.04), LH Jerry Blevins (5-1, 2.48, .183 BA vs. LH), RH Jim Miller (2-1, 2.59), LH Travis Blackley (6-4, 3.86).

Tigers: RH Jose Valverde (3-4, 3.78, 35/40 saves), RH Joaquin Benoit (5-3, 3.68, 84 Ks, 71 IP), RH Octavio Dotel (5-3, 3.57), RH Al Alburquerque (0-0, 0.68 in 8 games following elbow surgery), LH Phil Coke (2-3, 4.00), RH Brayan Villarreal (3-5, 2.63, 66 Ks, 54 2-3 IP), LH Drew Smyly (4-3, 3.99 in 23 games, 18 starts) or RH Rick Porcello (10-12, 4.59 in 31 starts).



The A's were swept by Detroit in the 2006 ALCS, ending their last playoff trip. Detroit won the pennant on a home run by Magglio Ordonez. ... The teams split a four-game series in Oakland in May, and Detroit won two of three at home in September. ... Smith had good success against the Tigers this season, hitting .417 with 2 HRs and 6 RBIs. ... Reddick also homered twice vs. Detroit this season. ... Cespedes missed the series in May with an injury. ... Anderson allowed three runs in 2 1-3 innings in his one start vs. the Tigers before leaving with an oblique injury that sidelined him for the last two weeks of the regular season. ... Crisp is 8 for 22 in his career against Verlander. No other A's player has more than two hits against the Tigers ace. ... Verlander and Scherzer finished 1-2 in the majors in strikeouts, and they'll face an Oakland team that whiffed more than any other in baseball. ... Verlander won both his starts this year against Oakland, allowing one run in 13 innings. ... Detroit OF Avisail Garcia was called up late in the season and hit .326 in 22 games. He could be an option against left-handers in place of Berry or Dirks. Brennan Boesch can also add pop to the outfield, but he hit only .240 this season. ... Coke has been fairly effective against left-handed batters this year, but righties hit .396 off him.


Big Picture:

Athletics: This was supposed to be a rebuilding year in Oakland after GM Billy Beane traded top starters Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill and closer Andrew Bailey in the offseason to give the team the lowest opening-day payroll in the majors at $53 million. Instead, manager Bob Melvin led a collection of rookies and misfits to the franchise's first playoff berth since 2006. ... After a rocky start, Oakland (94-68) has a major league-best 72-38 record since June 2, with big performances from players acquired in those deals such as Parker, Milone, Reddick, Cook and Norris. ... The A's became the fifth team to overcome a deficit of at least 13 games and finish in first place, and the first to overcome a five-game deficit with fewer than 10 games remaining. ... The one major offseason addition was Cuban defector Cespedes, who proved worthy of the $36 million, four-year deal he got from the normally thrifty A's. ... The A's got 56 HRs and 54 wins from their rookies, joining the 2006 Marlins as the only teams to get at least 50 of both in the same season. ... Oakland finished the season with five rookie starters and the 54 wins from rookies are the most ever for a playoff team. ... The A's set an AL record with 1,387 strikeouts but made up for it by leading the majors with 112 HRs after the All-Star break. Oakland hit 195 long balls overall, with three players reaching 20 and eight hitting double digits. ... The A's .238 average is the lowest for a playoff team since Detroit hit .235 in 1968 - the year before the mound was lowered. ... Oakland was shut out 16 times.

Tigers: It wasn't as easy as many expected, but Detroit (88-74) finally wrested the AL Central title away from the fading Chicago White Sox down the stretch to reach the postseason in consecutive years for the first time since 1934-35. ... Cabrera's charge to the Triple Crown began in earnest on Aug. 1. Since then, he's hit .344 with 19 homers and 54 RBIs in 57 games. ... Verlander threw a career-high six complete games and is in contention for a second straight Cy Young Award. ... From June 17 on, Scherzer went 11-3 with a 2.53 ERA. He was slowed by a shoulder problem in late September, but pitched four innings in the regular-season finale and seems good to go for the playoffs. ... The Tigers grounded into a major league-leading 156 double plays. They stole 59 bases, the second-fewest in the majors. ... Detroit manager Jim Leyland is making his seventh postseason appearance. He is 32-28 in postseason games. ... The Tigers lost to Texas in the 2011 AL championship series and signed Fielder last winter after slugger Victor Martinez sustained a season-ending knee injury. ... Sanchez allowed only 13 earned runs in his last eight starts. Five of them were in one game - against the A's on Sept. 20. ... After going all of 2011 without blowing a save, Valverde was a more pedestrian 35 for 40 this year. ... Benoit's 3.68 ERA was his highest since 2008. He allowed 14 homers, his most since he became exclusively a reliever. ... Fielder played 162 games for the third time in four years. ... The Tigers have four regulars with an OPS of at least .856 - Cabrera, Fielder, Dirks and Jackson. Then it's a substantial drop to Avila at .736. ... Backup catcher Gerald Laird provided a lift by hitting .282 in 63 games. ... Detroit finished sixth in the AL in runs. The Tigers were 10th in homers - with Cabrera and Fielder accounting for more than 45 percent of the team's total of 163.


Watch For:

- Swingin' A's. Few teams relied on the home run ball as much as the Athletics, who were second-to-last in the league in batting average. Oakland went 78-38 when homering in a game and 41-14 when hitting at least two. The A's were just 16-30 when they failed to go deep.

- Heart of the Order. Cabrera was intentionally walked five times in last year's postseason - and that was before he went out and won the Triple Crown. One way to approach the Tigers is to limit the damage Cabrera and Fielder can do and hope for rally-killing double-play balls from other hitters. Easier said than done.

- Mighty `Pen. Oakland's bullpen was young but effective, with Cook making the All-Star team as a rookie and converted first baseman Doolittle providing a midseason boost less than a year after changing positions. The big key came when Balfour won back his closing job Aug. 11, He converted all 17 save chances down the stretch.

- Making Contact. Detroit's defense hasn't been pretty - Jackson is the team's only real standout with the glove. But the Tigers' fielding issues won't be much of a problem in this series if Verlander, Scherzer and Co. prevent the strikeout-prone A's from making contact in the first place.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What does the future hold?


Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What does the future hold?

In this week's mailbag podcast, JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir answer several questions about the Caps' prospects and Hershey.

How does the future look on the farm? Plus, they talk about potential weaknesses, their biggest surprises and more!

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.


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Need to Know: The best quarterbacks the Redskins will face in 2018

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Need to Know: The best quarterbacks the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 16, 10 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best quarterbacks the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the quarterbacks are up. They are roughly ranked by Football Outsiders’ DVOA, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. 

Aaron Rodgers, Packers—An injury-plagued 2017 season actually pushed Rodgers near the middle of the pack in DVOA. But we know better than that. We have every expectation that he will be back throwing for around 4,000 yards, 35 touchdowns, and a half-dozen or so miracle comebacks. The Redskins had better hope they have a big lead late in their Week 3 game. 

Drew Brees, Saints—The last time Brees failed to pass for over 4,000 yards in a season we were in the first year of the second term of George W. Bush and Joe Gibbs was in the second year of his comeback stint with the Redskins. Brees gives the Saints a chance in every game and nearly every situation (as the Redskins found out in New Orleans last season. 

Matt Ryan, Falcons—The first $30 million man in NFL history is everything you want in a quarterback. He’s productive, with at least 4,000 passing yards every season since 2011. Ryan also is durable; he hasn’t missed a game this decade. The only thing he is missing is a ring but he didn’t call passes when the Falcons were set up for a clinching field goal and he wasn’t on the field when Tom Brady shredded the Falcons defense in the fourth quarter. 

Carson Wentz, Eagles—The Redskins experienced their share of frustration in trying to deal with Wentz last year. They weren’t the only ones as Wentz was a prime MVP candidate before he missed the last three games and the playoffs with a torn ACL. I am not buying into the notion that there will be any quarterback controversy in Philly. When Wentz is healthy, Nick Foles will step aside. 

Deshaun Watson, Texans—Perhaps the hype train was getting a little bit out of hand for the rookie last year. After all, the Texans were 3-3 in his six starts and he was on pace to throw 21 interceptions. Still, he should be a good one. His mobility is a huge asset and we have seen the problems that the Redskins have had dealing with quarterbacks who can scramble in the pocket and take off and run. 

Best of the rest: Cam Newton, Panthers; Jameis Winston, Bucs; Marcus Mariota, Titans; Dak Prescott, Cowboys; Andrew Luck, Colts (if healthy)

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Former Redskins kicker Chip Lohmiller, who outscored the entire Baltimore Colts team in the 1991 season, was born on this date in 1966.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 10
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 24
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 47

The Redskins last played a game 197 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 55 days. 

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