Tag: 2014 World Series

Kansas City Royals vs. SF Giants Game 4: Live Score and World Series Highlights

Keep it right here for all the live updates of the pivotal Royals vs. Giants Game 4 matchup. Who will come out on top in a hotly contested World Series matchup? We’ll be the first to let you know!

Royals lead the series, 2-1. 

Game 4 can be seen on Fox.


SCORE UPDATE: Royals 4 – 11 Giants, Top 9h

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Detroit Tigers: Why Justin Verlander Is the Key to a Deep Playoff Run

Poised to win the American League Central for the fourth consecutive year, the Detroit Tigers‘ fortunes this October will rest squarely on the right arm of one Justin Brooks Verlander. 

Admittedly, that’s a bold statement, especially when you consider Detroit’s $164 million roster includes the likes of 2012-13 MVP Miguel Cabrera, 2013 Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, 2013 A.L. ERA leader Anibal Sanchez, five-time All Star Victor Martinez and new arrival David Price, who happened to win the Cy Young in 2012.

But Verlander is the Tigers’ No. 1 starter. Their Big Dawg. Their hombre. Their bouncer. Their ace. And to win in October you need an ace.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, Verlander has done everything this season but pitch like an ace. In fact, his 4.66 ERA this season is more than a full run higher than any of the Tigers’ other starters, and his WHIP of 1.42 also ranks as the worst among his rotation mates. Those are definitely not results the Tigers’ front office envisioned when it gave Verlander a seven-year, $180 million extension last year in the hope he would be the horse the organization could ride to its first world championship since 1984.

It’s imperative Verlander rights the ship before the start of the playoffs for three reasons. First, the rest of the Tigers’ rotation does not eat enough innings to compensate for the team’s weak, overworked bullpen, which will leave Detroit vulnerable in the late innings against playoff-caliber offenses like the A’s, Angels and Orioles

Price is a horse, but in Scherzer and Sanchez, (we’ll assume No. 5 starter Rick Porcello will head to the bullpen in the playoffs), manager Brad Ausmus has two capable starters who’ve averaged only 6.1 innings per start since the beginning of last season. This means Ausmus will be relying on the bullpen to get eight highly leveraged outs in what will likely be razor-tight pitching duels where one misplaced fastball or hanging curve could have disastrous results.

Let’s look at Detroit’s bullpen for a second. Closer Joe Nathan has enjoyed a stellar career with 363 saves and a 2.88 ERA, but this year he’s already blown five saves in just 27 attempts, and his ERA is a bloated 5.45. 

Setup man Joba Chamberlain has had an excellent season, but he’s just two years removed from Tommy John surgery and on pace to nearly equal his personal best of 73 appearances in a season. 

Right-hander Al Albuquerque has also posted good numbers this season; However, his heavy workload may already be affecting his dynamite stuff. His FIP, per Baseball-Reference.com, of 4.32 suggests his current ERA of 3.26 will rise and his K/9 of 10.5 is his worst mark by almost two full strikeouts.   

Finally, left-handed specialists Ian Krol and Phil Coke’s aggregate ERA and WHIP of 4.77 and 1.60, respectively, have caused Ausmus to reach for the Rolaids on more than one occasion this season.

Recently acquired Joakim Soria is solid, but even after his arrival from Texas, Detroit’s bullpen will still be a little short. This is where Verlander comes in. Vintage Verlander—assume the 2012 model when he had a 2.64 ERA to go along with a 1.06 WHIP and averaged 7.1 innings per start—would give his manager the luxury of saving his beleaguered bullpen for other games when an eight-out effort will be necessary to achieve a win.

The second reason why Detroit needs Verlander to return to form is that he and his fellow starters must mask an inconsistent offense. Although Detroit’s 495 runs scored ranks fourth in the A.L., and its OPS of .765 paces the junior circuit, the Tigers’ offense has gone in the tank for extended stretches this season and has been particularly susceptible to power pitching. 

For example, during a 9-17 stretch from May 19 through June 18, Detroit faced hard throwers like Trevor Bauer, Yu Darvish, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Drew Hutchison and Chris Sale and hit only .258, or 20 points below their full-season average.

It will only get tougher in October, when the Tigers will probably have to face the likes of Gray (remember his eight shutout innings in Game 2 of the AL Division Series last year?), Kazmir, Jeff Samardzija, Felix Hernandez and Garrett Richards multiple times in a series. Detroit will need its starters to bring their “A” games for such matchups, meaning Verlander pitching like he has for most of this year simply won’t cut it.

The Tigers’ poor defense is the final reason why Verlander will need to regain his old magic once the leaves start to change color. Although second baseman Ian Kinsler and rookie shortstop Eugenio Suarez make a solid double play combination, Cabrera and Nick Castellanos offer below-average range at the corners. And Torii Hunter and J.D. Martinez, who has earned a starting job because of his hot bat, are among the A.L.’s worst outfielders according to Baseball-Reference.com’s UZR rankings.

Simply put, Detroit’s starters will need as many strikeouts as possible to negate the team’s porous defense. While Scherzer, with 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings, has actually improved his pace from last season, Sanchez’s and Verlander’s K/9 are down significantly. Verlander’s drop—from 8.9 in 2012 to a pedestrian 6.6 this year—is particularly alarming and will have to be improved.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Looking into Dodgers-Tigers Series as Potential 2014 World Series Preview

Off to a 4-1 start, the Detroit Tigers should feel a sense of urgency this season after the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals proved in 2013 that they were quickly closing the gap in the AL Central.

But if the Tigers can at least partially fill the gaping hole in the middle of their lineup that the trade of slugger Prince Fielder created, their starting rotation is still good enough to carry the team into the postseason for a fourth consecutive season and into the World Series for the third time in nine years. 

Their World Series opponent, if you believe the so-called experts, will likely be the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are the unanimous favorite with sportsbooks, according to Odds Shark, to win it all.

If their talent on paper can translate to wins on the field and they can overcome an extended absence of ace Clayton Kershaw, who is currently on the disabled list with a back injury, then we can look forward to a star-studded World Series matchup between the Dodgers and Tigers. 

Those two teams will get an early look at each other when the Tigers visit Dodger Stadium for a two-game series starting Tuesday at 10:10 p.m. ET. 

While the team’s respective aces, Kershaw and Justin Verlander, won’t make an appearance—Kershaw has 13 shutout innings versus the Tigers in his career; Verlander has never faced the Dodgers—the four starting pitchers scheduled to pitch are no slouches.

Missing Verlander, the 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner, would normally be a relief for opponents. But with 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer—who tossed eight shutout innings in his first start of this season—on the hill in Game 1 and Anibal Sanchez, the reigning AL ERA champ, scheduled to take the mound on Wednesday, the Dodgers are not getting much of a break. 

Their lineup won’t be at full health, either, with catcher A.J. Ellis (arthroscopic knee surgery) expected to be placed on the disabled list prior to Tuesday’s game and Yasiel Puig at less than 100 percent health with a strained thumb ligament. 

Regardless, a Puig-less lineup might have a better shot against the Tigers’ duo. They are extremely tough against right-handed hitters, who posted a .536 OPS against Sanchez and .494 OPS versus Scherzer in 2013. Right-handed batters are 2-for-19 against the pair thus far in 2014. 

In addition, left-handed hitter Andre Ethier, who would likely take Puig’s spot in the lineup, has had success against Scherzer over his career (6-for-15, HR, 2B).

If manager Don Mattingly really wants Puig, who is 6-for-24 with a homer and a double to start the season, in the lineup for at least one of the games, he could opt to sit Matt Kemp against Scherzer after checking out his career numbers against him. Kemp is 0-for-16 against Scherzer with no walks and four strikeouts. 

There’s no doubt that Scherzer and Sanchez are tough, helping to form one of, if not, the best top of the rotations in the game. But, after the Dodgers’ weekend series against the San Francisco Giants, the heart of the Dodgers’ lineup is shaping up to be just as impressive.   

Despite losing two out of three games to the rival Giants, the Dodgers have plenty to be excited about moving forward.

Kemp, who missed most of 2013 and is coming back from ankle and shoulder surgeries, looked as healthy as he’s been in a long time with a two-homer game on Sunday. Hanley Ramirez, who played in only 86 games last season because of multiple injuries, matched Kemp with two homers on Sunday and went 6-for-11 in the series with two doubles to go along with the home runs. Adrian Gonzalez also had two doubles and a homer. 

A healthy Kemp and Ramirez and a productive Gonzalez hitting in between them could give the Dodgers the most dangerous “heart of the order” in all of baseball. 

As Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times noted, the Dodgers have never been able to pencil in a healthy Kemp and Ramirez in the same lineup. 

“Hanley is on a different level,” Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke said. “If Matt’s like that, like he was today, you don’t want to face this lineup.”

Of the potential middle-of-the-order trio, Gonzalez added, “That’s a pretty good three-four-five.”

The Tigers lineup as a whole, though, has been much more impressive. Second in baseball with an .825 OPS through five games, this group is quickly easing concerns over how to replace Fielder’s production behind Miguel Cabrera. 

Leading the charge is Austin Jackson, who has moved down from the leadoff spot to protecting Cabrera and cleanup man Victor Martinez in the No. 5 hole. The 27-year-old center fielder is 7-for-20 with two doubles and a triple. Rookie third baseman Nick Castellanos (5-for-13, 2B) is also off to a strong start, as is veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez (4-for-11, 3B) and outfielder Rajai Davis (3-for-9, HR, SB).

Bottom-of-the-order production could be key to the Tigers’ season, as well as in this series against the Dodgers. Only Martinez (9-for-26, HR, 2 2B) has success against Dan Haren, who will start Tuesday’s game. 

In game two, they’ll face either Josh Beckett, who might be activated from the disabled list, or lefty Hyun-jin Ryu, who would be making his fourth start of the season.

The Tigers were shut down by the lone lefty starter they faced so far this season. Kansas City Royals pitcher Jason Vargas allowed only one earned run against them in seven innings on five hits, one walk and six strikeouts. 

While the most interesting storylines involve the stars—Kemp and Ramirez versus Scherzer and Sanchez—each team’s ability to get the ball to their respective closer could be the difference in these games. 

Dodgers setup man Brian Wilson is on the disabled list with nerve irritation in his elbow, while the guy who was supposed to be the Tigers’ primary setup man, Bruce Rondon, is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The next most viable candidate, free-agent acquisition Joba Chamberlain, allowed two runs and four hits in his lone inning of work this season. 

J.P. Howell, Chris Perez and Chris Withrow have more than made up for Wilson’s absence, however, accounting for a combined 12.1 scoreless innings.

On the other hand, the Tigers have yet to find that reliever who will step up and take hold of a late-inning setup role. Al Alburquerque and Phil Coke have each had shaky outings, and closer Joe Nathan has struggled, allowing runs in each of his last two appearances and blowing a save.

If the baseball world is to be treated to a first-ever World Series matchup between the Dodgers and Tigers, the Dodgers will need their stars to stay healthy. The Tigers will need to strengthen their bullpen and continue to get production from the bottom of the order. 

But most teams, if not every single one of them, have questions to answer at this point of the season. It’s quite possible that the two most talented teams in baseball will take the field at Chavez Ravine on Tuesday and Wednesday before continuing on journeys that could lead them back to the same place as World Series opponents in late October.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

2014 World Series Odds for Every Team at the Start of Spring Training

Spring training games are set to kick off around the league this week, which means we will soon get our first chance to see all 30 MLB teams compete in 2014.

There’s reason for optimism for every fanbase at this point, even if it does not look like every team has a legitimate shot at winning it all in 2014.

The 2012 season featured the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics make surprise runs to the postseason, while it was the Cleveland Indians who exceeded expectations to reach the playoffs last year.

That just goes to show that you never quite know how the season will play out. That said, here is a look at all 30 MLB teams’ current odds of winning it all in 2014. Alongside the odds I’ve given for each team is a look at its current Vegas odds for the sake of comparison.


Note: Vegas odds courtesy of Vegas Insider and last updated on Feb. 17.

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