The Tigers kick off the World Series tonight at 8:20 (allegedly, that could be when 45 minutes of pre-game ceremonies start) in San Francisco against Barry Zito, the soft tossing much maligned lefty.
Expect Leyland to run out a form his usual left handed pitching line up of Jackson, Infante, Cabrera, Fielder, Young, Peralta, Garcia, Laird, Verlander. This is going to happen since Zito has been awful against right handed hitters not just this season but in his career. He has kept left handed hitters to an OPS of .559 but right handed hitters have an .823 OPS against him.
To put that number in perspective, the Yankees led all of baseball in team OPS this season. At .790. So Barry Zito’s OPS against righties is over 30 points higher than the highest team average in baseball.
Expect the right handed hitting Laird behind the plate even though he has been better (his OPS is 200 points higher) against righties than lefties.
The choice of going with the young Avisail Garcia in the outfield is an easy one, since his right handed bat and excellent defense out weigh his lack of experience and having him in right field will hopefully allow for Jackson to offer more help to the inept Delmon Young in left field. That’s right, Delmon Young will be playing left field.
Expect the Giants line up to look the same as game 7 of the NLCS, with the hot hitting Marco Scutero (how long can that hot hitting from him even last?) batting 2nd and Brandon Belt, who had a nice CS as well, batting 6th. The Giants have a few dangerous hitters as well, Buster Posey, who struggled at times this post season (but that could be because of the Cardinals long standing rule to never throw the opposing teams best hitter a pitch to hit) and the pesky Hunter Pence and their own fat thrid baseman, Pablo Sandoval.
Overall, this is not a line up the Giants run out there that should worry any of the Tigers pitchers, especially Justin Verlander and with Barry Zito on the mound, the Tigers hitters should be able to strike early and often. This game is set up for the Tigers to win and that should set the tone for the entire series.
Don’t expect a sweep again, as the Giants are playing much better baseball than the Yankees, but with the way their pitching rotation is set, the Tigers clearly have an advantage they need to capitalize on. If both teams had 5+ days off before the series and both got to send their ace out game 1, I’d say this would be a fantastic series, but it is set how it is and that favors Detroit.