2013-MLB-Baseball-Picks-and-Odds2013 MLB ALCS Odds and Picks: Detroit Tigers versus Boston Red Sox Odds and Predictions – Free MLB Playoff Picks: The two best offenses in baseball will go head to head with a berth in the 2013 World Series on the line when the Detroit Tigers (93-69) face the Boston Red Sox (97-65) in the American League Championship Series. While the Tigers will be trying to return to the World Series for the second year in a row, the Red Sox are trying to continue an impressive turnaround that has already seen them post the best record in baseball just one year after finishing dead last in the AL East. Both sides bring plenty of star power to the table in this matchup which begins Saturday night in Boston.

For the Tigers, power at the plate and on the mound has been the secret to the team’s success. Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez lead an offense that ranked first in batting average and second in runs and OPS during the regular season. Meanwhile, starters Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez all topped 200 strikeouts for a staff that ranked first in quality starts and ranked inside the top 10 in ERA, WHIP and opponent batting average. In addition, Scherzer led the majors with 21 wins, and Sanchez posted the best ERA in the American League. Fittingly, both of Detroit’s strengths were on display during the team’s Game 5 victory over the Oakland Athletics in the ALDS. Verlander fired eight shutout innings, and a two-run homer by Cabrera put the Tigers on top for good.

With new manager John Farrell at the helm, Boston has been a completely different team in 2013, especially at the plate. The Red Sox led the majors in runs, slugging percentage and on-base percentage and ranked second in batting average. David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury are the stars of the lineup, but Daniel Nava, Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino have also enjoyed excellent years. On the mound, bounceback years from John Lackey and Jon Lester and the emergence of Clay Buchholz allowed Boston to rank in the top half in almost every pitching category. In fact, the Red Sox recorded the third-most quality starts in baseball. Boston used the same recipe for success in its ALDS matchup against the Tampa Bay, outscoring the Rays 26-11 en route to a 3-1 series win.

The Tigers Win If:

For the Tigers to return to the World Series, they need their starting pitching to control the series, and they need their big bats to drive in runs. If Verlander and company come up with a couple of gems during the series, Detroit will be in the driver’s seat. Even if the Tigers’ starters simply hold the Boston offense to four runs or less, Detroit will have a good shot in every game. At the plate, Cabrera, Fielder and Martinez have to have some big hits. The Tigers don’t steal many bases and aren’t a team that manufactures runs so if their stars aren’t hitting well, they aren’t going to win the series. If Detroit’s pitching can at least keep the scores manageable and the heavy hitters are doing their job at the plate, the Tigers should be able to head back to the World Series.

The Red Sox Win If:

If the Red Sox are going to win the series, they have to make Detroit’s starters work hard, and their starters have to hold their own. Yes, the Tigers’ staff can pile up strikeouts and put zeroes on the board, but if Boston’s hitters are at least patient, they can increase their chances of forcing a mistake and run up the pitch count of the Detroit starters. On the mound, the Red Sox need to continue to get quality outings from their starters. As long as Boston’s staff can keep the score reasonable, the Red Sox will always have a chance because of their explosive offense.

Bottom Line:

These two teams met seven times during the regular season with Detroit holding a 4-3 edge in a series that featured everything from pitchers’ duels to blowouts for both sides. However, it is tough to ignore the fact that the Red Sox seems to be firing on all cylinders heading into the ALCS. The Boston starters are pitching as well as they have all year, and Ellsbury and Victorino have been getting on base at a high rate at the top of the lineup, and the big bats have been driving them in. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ offense has been struggling while Cabrera tries to play through an injury. Yes, Verlander has been brilliant, but Sanchez was rocked in his first postseason start. Not to mention the fact that the Rays pitching staff was also one of the best in the league, but that didn’t stop the Red Sox from putting runs on the board. Boston has been getting solid pitching, and the offense has been on a roll. The Tigers will likely get a gem or two from their starters, but it won’t be enough to win the series.

Prediction: Boston Red Sox Win the Series

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