The Phillies may have been the first team to punch their ticket to the postseason earlier this week, but the Tigers became the first team to wrap up their division late last night.
Behind yet another strong performance by Doug Fister, the Tigers defeated the Athletics 3-1 to clinch the American League Central. Detroit is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2006, when they won the American League Wild Card and lost to the Cardinals in the World Series. This is their first division title since 1987, when they played in the American League East.
Fister allowed three hits over eight innings of one-run ball in the victory, striking out five and walking none. Jose Valverde pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his 45th save in 45 chances.
Fister is now 6-1 with a 2.12 ERA and 46/5 K/BB in 59 1/3 innings over nine starts since being acquired from the Mariners before the trade deadline. We all know Justin Verlander has been out of his mind this season, but the Tigers suddenly have themselves a pretty formidable one-two punch for the playoffs.
Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.
On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.
Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.
As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.
Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”
The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.