Five Questions for the ALCS - NBC Chicago

Five Questions for the ALCS

The Tigers and Yankees square off for the second straight year



    Five Questions for the ALCS
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    Cabrera won the Triple Crown, now he goes for the World Series.

    There's very little time to bone up on the Tigers ahead of the start of the ALCS, so we're going to do our best to get you the stuff you need to know as quickly as possible. 

    1.Who has the offensive edge? On paper, it would be the Yankees. They scored more runs than the Tigers this season and have a much deeper lineup than Detroit, which relies heavily on Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in a very top-heavy lineup. 

    But we just watched the Yankees score 16 runs in five games (nine in the final four) against the Orioles, so it's not like the depth of the Yankee lineup is going to be a huge factor if the slump continues. Curtis Granderson's home run late in Game Five on Friday provides some hope that things will turn around for the Yankees. 

    2.Who is hurt more by the length of the ALDS? The Yankees and Tigers each got complete games from their aces in Game Five to advance, which means neither Justin Verlander nor CC Sabathia will pitch until Game Three of this series. That sets up an epic Game Seven should things go that far, but it makes earning at least a split in the first two games essential if you don't want to be staring at the abyss come Tuesday. 

    Andy Pettitte faces Doug Fister, who eliminated the Yankees in Game Five of last year's ALDS meeting between the teams, and that's about as even a matchup as you could find. Hiroki Kuroda has an edge over Anibal Sanchez in Game Two, though, which puts the Yankees in good position to take control of the series before leaving the Bronx. 

    3. Who is best equipped for close games? This might be the biggest Yankee advantage in the series. Detroit's bullpen was shaky in the regular season and terrible in the Oakland series while the Yankees have not missed a beat without Mariano Rivera so far this season. If games get to the late innings tied or close, the Yankees will have an advantage. 

    4. How banged up are the Yankees? Both Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira looked positively spry scoring runs in Game Five, but the grind of the schedule (five straight games) could wind up taking a toll on their respective foot and calf injuries. Older teams always have to worry about these issues and the Yankees are no exception. 

    5. What's A-Rod's role? The Tigers will be starting four right-handed pitchers this series, which suggests a lot of time on the bench for Rodriguez based on Joe Girardi's decision to bench him in Game Five. It's hard to imagine he won't start at least one of the first two games, but a continuation of the awful at-bats from the Orioles series will likely leave him as the best-paid pinch hitter in history. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.