Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
While most are concerned about the talent of the Oakland pitching staff, I'm not quite as concerned as everyone else. I have no doubt Barry Zito will give the Tigers fits (because he always has), but the combined ERA of the four Oakland starters this season against the Tigers is over five. What really has me concerned is the patience of the Oakland lineup - despite not having an imposing one through nine, they were 2nd in baseball, taking 650 walks. As incredible as Jeremy Bonderman and Kenny Rogers were in games three and four, more patient hitters likely could have laid off some of those pitches, forcing Tiger pitchers to give A's something to hit. The patience of the entire lineup, combined with their dangerous power hitters (Frank Thomas, Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez), has me afraid of what this lineup could do, even if we just shut down what Joe Morgan called the best lineup ever.
Mark Anderson, Associate Editor, Minor Leagues
The thing that concerns me most about the A's, is likely the thing that concerns A's fans most about the Tigers; the pitching. The A's are the only team remaining in the playoffs that can match the Tigers pitching staff from front to back. They have quality starters coming out of their collective ears, including impending free agent Barry Zito, the very underrated Dan Haren, the much maligned -- but rolling since the All-Star break -- Esteban Loaiza, and the always frightening Rich Harden. Those four pitchers could be enough to slow the Tiger bats in a playoff series, and even if Detroit can get them out of the game early, the bullpen is downright filthy. With Blanton filling a long relief role, Kennedy and Duchscerer taking care of the 6th/7th innings, and some combination of Kiko Calero and Chad Gaudin getting the ball to the always impressive Huston Street, that bullpen could be a nightmare. Plain and simple, this series could be a war of attrition between the offenses, and the Tiger's staff may be matched pitch for pitch. Runs are going to be tough to come by over the next two weeks.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
There are two things that I'm concerned with for the upcoming series with Oakland. First, after such a big series win over the Yankees, can the Tigers have an emotional letdown? With Jim Leyland at the helm, I think he'll have the team ready to play, but it's always something to keep an eye on. Second, is the pitching the Tigers will face. Barry Zito, Esteban Loaiza, Rich Harden, Dan Haren, and Joe Blanton comprise one of the best top-to-bottom rotations in the majors, and runs will be at a premium, so the Tigers must cash in when they get their opportunities. This is going to be an outstanding series, and I'll be stunned if it ends in before six games for either side.
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