Both starters have been announced for game one of the ALDS between the Orioles and Tigers; Chris Tillman for the Baltimore Orioles and Max Scherzer for the Detroit Tigers. It’s no real surprise at this point that these two were going to be the starters. Both starters saw great success in 2014, but who has the real advantage?
Let’s start with Scherzer, the 2013 AL Cy Young Winner. In 2014, he had a record of 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 5.6 WAR, 252 K’s and 63 walks in 220.1 IP. If you don’t know anything about baseball, this is good — very good, but not as good as the Scherzer of 2013.
The Tigers’ ace did see some regression in the form of less wins (which doesn’t really mean anything), higher ERA, FIP and a lower WAR. The funny thing though, Scherzer’s 5.6 WAR was still 2.2 higher than the second closest pitcher in the stat. He also had the lowest ERA, but Anibal Sanchez beat him in FIP.
Max Scherzer is still Max Scherzer and he will be very tough for the Orioles’ hitters to face. His main two pitches are his fastball (55.1%) and his change up (21%), he’s a swing and miss pitcher which bodes well (for the Tigers) against the free-swinging O’s. The best thing the Orioles can do against him is work the count enough to chase him from the game as soon as possible and get to that Detroit bullpen, which is very weak.
And now, Chris Tillman. Tillman is not a former Cy Young Winner and his highest accolade is being named to the All Star Game in 2013. Although, don’t get me wrong, Tillman is still pretty good. On the year, he went 13-6 with a 3.34 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 2.4 WAR, 150 K’s, and 63 walks in 207.1 IP. (Yes, an Orioles pitcher got 200 innings!) These stats aren’t as flashy as Scherzer’s, obviously, but are still fairly solid.
For the Orioles as a team, Tillman had the lowest ERA among starters, second in WAR to Wei-Yin Chen, and third in FIP behind Chen and Kevin Gausman. There is one stat that Tillman improved on this season: he did not lead in HR/9! (He finished behind Chen, but still, progress!)
As Orioles fans know by now, Tillman is prone to giving up runs early on, which could become a bit of a problem in this playoff atmosphere. With how dominant Scherzer is, any lead could be enough for him, meaning Tillman needs to be on his A game, and better. No pressure, or anything.
This should be a decent pitching match up. Obviously the Tigers have the big names that usually translate to success, but their is one thing working against them — since the All Star Break, the Orioles have the lowest team ERA (2.88) wihle the Tigers are ranked 25th in that cateogiry (4.06). Whether that translates to the postseason or not will be seen Thursday night, but one thing is sure: this will be a very, very exciting series.
Image Credit: Keith Allison