Game 1 of the World Series between the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants is upon us. In the ultimate contrast of styles, Justin Verlander will oppose Barry Zito.
I think Dan Plesac of MLB Network said it best when comparing the fastballs each pitcher possesses. He said Zito could hit you in the eye and not even cause a bruise, while JV can throw it through a brick wall. We’ll see which approach plays out best tonight starting at 8 pm on Fox.
At age 34, the left-handed Zito turned in a quality season going 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.39 WHIP to go along with 114 K’s in 184.1 innings. He represents the type of pitcher that sometimes gives the Tigers a lot of trouble (see Bruce Chen, Kansas City Royals).
Zito has stepped up his game in the postseason, using a bevy of slow breaking balls and well-placed fastballs. He didn’t last long against the Reds but baffled the Cardinals in that critical start with 7.2 scoreless innings. He has a 1.74 ERA and 10 K’s in 10.1 innings this October.
The Tigers will need to patiently wait for Zito to make mistakes in the strike zone, and then attack. An overly aggressive approach by the Tigers tonight could prove problematic against a nibbler like Zito.
And on the other side you have the best pitcher in baseball. Justin Verlander went 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA in his Cy Young/MVP encore season. He led baseball with 239 strikeouts and has been on point lately. He went 5-1 in 6 September starts with a 1.93 ERA. He has somehow bested that by going 3-0 in 3 playoff starts with a 0.74 ERA. Nobody is better.
JV has taken some heat this week for his blowup start in the All-Star Game back in July. Oddly enough it was several Giants players that roughed him up in that 1-inning effort and cost the American League home field advantage in the World Series. Verlander will be looking to quiet that storm with another dominant performance in Game 1.
The Giants aren’t the same strikeout happy sort of team that Verlander has seen so far in Oakland and New York. Expect more balls in play and Detroit’s defense to be tested a bit more than they were in the American League rounds.
On a side note, it is sunny and 70 in Detroit both today and tomorrow. When the team returns home this weekend the thermometer will be stretching to hit 50 and might bottom out in the 30’s when the sun is buried below the horizon late in the Motor City night. Starting at home would have been nice for this reason more than most.
My projected Game 1 lineups are below and I will update them when they are confirmed:
- Austin Jackson – CF
- Omar Infante – 2B
- Miguel Cabrera – 3B
- Prince Fielder – 1B
- Delmon Young – LF
- Jhonny Peralta – SS
- Andy Dirks – RF – Update: Avisail Garcia gets the start tonight in right, batting 7th
- Gerald Laird – C – Update: Leyland is going with Alex Avila behind the dish in Game 1, hitting 8th
- Justin Verlander – P
- Angel Pagan – CF
- Marco Scutaro – 2B
- Pablo Sandoval – 3B
- Buster Posey – C
- Hunter Pence – RF
- Brandon Belt – 1B
- Gregor Blanco – LF
- Brandon Crawford – SS
- Barry Zito – P
Update: Bruce Bochy has confirmed this as his Game 1 lineup.
Final Score Prediction:
Tigers 5 – Giants 2
For my complete World Series preview, click here.