Two major reasons why the Tigers could pose a playoff threat is their ace Justin Verlander and their closer Jose Valverde. What a year this combo is having! Verlander is a major league-best 17-5 with a 2.35 ERA and 196 strikeouts. Valverde is 33 for 33 in save opportunities. In a short series, facing Verlander twice may be doomsday and with Valverde lurking, you only have 8 innings per game to get the job done.
For Verlander, his 17th win of the year was also the 100th for his career. According to Yahoo! Sports, Verlander is the quickest Tigers pitcher to 100 wins since Denny McLain in 1969. Of course, McLain is still our last 30-game winner in the majors.
So what about Valverde? If the Tigers make the playoffs and we use the Hernandez model, shouldn't Valverde be in the MVP and Cy Young Award conversations? As I stated in an earlier post, an argument can be made that Verlander is the Cy Young Award winner and Valverde is the MVP. Sounds a little like wishful thinking with the kind of year Boston Red Sox slugger Adrian Gonzalez is having but there is a legitimate argument. Where would the Tigers be without Valverde?
Anyway, the Tigers are on pace to ONLY win 85 to 88 games but come playoff time, they're the one team, I'm sure, nobody is going to want to play in the first round. These Tigers may just do to their opponents what the 83-78 St. Louis Cardinals did to theirs in 2006, including the 2006 Tigers themselves. Maybe it's the Tigers' turn?
Oh by the way--
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