ALCS Game 6 Preview- The Time is now!

Posted: October 14, 2011 in Texas Rangers

By Chris Bates

     A potential $50 million dollar front of the rotation ace type starter has certainly not pitched like it this postseason.  C.J. Wilson once again struggled last night giving up six earned runs in just 6.0 innings of work. Wilson will be a free agent this off-season and he is expecting to get a big contract.  From what teams have seen in the postseason, he will most likely not get paid like an ace does.  Last night was his chance to shine and match an ace, Cy-Young award winning pitcher in Justin Verlander pitch for pitch but after one bad hop on a ground ball to third base that hit the bag and jumped over Adrian Beltre’s glove, Wilson unraveled.  He gave up an RBI triple and then a two-run homerun on a high fastball as the Rangers lost game 5 to the Detroit Tigers 7-5.  Time will tell what kind of contract Wilson gets in the off-season.

Preview

       The Rangers head back home for potentially two games in front of their home crowd to eliminate the Tigers and head back to the World Series for the second consecutive year and the second time in franchise history.  Game 6 of the ALCS series starts at 7:05 p.m. Saturday night from the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.  Game 2 starters Derek Holland and Max Scherzer will face off again.  Ranger fans can only hope Holland gives the team a better outing this time around.  He struggled mightily with his command giving up 3 earned runs on 4 walks in just 2 2/3 innings.  Scherzer on the other hand, had a quality pitching performance giving up just three runs in 6.0 innings of work. 

Even Matchup

       Despite the struggle in his last start, Holland (right)  quietly had one of the best years in the major leagues this season.  He went 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA in 198 innings pitched.  He is certainly capable of pitching a great game and not relying on his bullpen to help him out of trouble.  Holland led the Rangers in both complete games (4) and shutouts (4).  He is just 25 years old and in his second full season in the major leagues.  In his first postseason, Holland has given up four runs on 11 hits in 9.0 innings pitched.  Opponents are batting .289 against him in the postseason compared to .262 in the regular season. Holland has not been able to find his command so far this postseason, walking six batters in the 9.0 innings he’s pitched.  He walked just 67 batters all regular season in 198.0 innings pitched. Holland was fourth in the American League in wins and complete games and third in win percentage (.762).  Look for Holland to bounce back in a big way and pitch like the Rangers know he can on Saturday in a close out game.

     Max Scherzer (right)  has been brilliant this postseason, giving up just five funs in 13 1/2 innings in two starts and one relief appearance.  Scherzer was 15-9 with a 4.43 ERA in the regular season.  He has just three career postseason starts.  Opponents are batting just .200 against Scherzer in the postseason compared to .272 in the regular season.  His ERA has made a significant jump to 2.70 this postseason.  Scherzer has been excellent locating the strike zone so far in his outings in the playoffs, having 13 strikeouts in his 13 1/2 innings pitched.  Look for Scherzer to continue pitching well and make the Rangers work for their runs, just like he did in Game 2.

Even Teams

     Going into this series, I believed all along that the Rangers would win in six games because of their depth of pitching.  The Tigers have the better rotation but the Rangers have the better bullpen (1.10 ERA combined in the playoffs).  Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz have been brilliant combining to go 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA.  These two teams were head to head in the regular season in the chase for home-field advantage in the playoffs and the number two seed.  The Rangers won both by just one game; it was a fight until the end.  Texas 96-66, Detroit 95-67.  If anything, the Tigers victory in Game 5 showed that they will not go down without a fight.  The Rangers are going to have to work to close these guys out; they are a resilient bunch and a veteran team.  Texas has the players and the experience from last postseason to do it and I don’t see any reason as to why they won’t close out Detroit tomorrow night.  Good news for Texas is that they are playing at home where they tied with the Yankees for the best home record in the American League (52-29).  The crowd is going to be ready, the Rangers players have said they feed off the energy of the crowd and another great game will take place on Saturday night.  This whole series has been close, without the two Nelson Cruz extra inning home runs, each game in this series would have been decided by one or two runs. 

Prediction

       Both pitchers pitch well and go 6+ innings before the bullpens take over.  That will be the difference.  The depth the Rangers have in their bullpen makes them the most complete team left in the playoffs.  The Tigers are dealing with injuries to two of their starters, Victor Martinez and Delmon Young (both playing with oblique injuries) but they are gutting it out for their team.  Detroit has tired relievers in set-up man Joaquin Benoit (threw 34 pitches in his last outing) and closer Jose Valverde (pitched in every game except Game 5). This will be a key to Game 6.  Texas has rested relievers and I see the bullpen once again shutting down Detroit’s lineup.  Final Score: TEX 4, DET 2.

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