A Tigers-Yankees Game 5 preview and a prediction

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While waiting for the decisive Game 5 to start, it’s hard not to notice that the Yankees have outscored the Tigers 26-14 through four games in the ALDS.

And I get the feeling tonight’s game will play out in the same manner that the previous games did: either the Yankees will win big or the Tigers will prevail in a tight one.

Of course, the Yankees can win a close game, too, what with David Robertson and Mariano Rivera well rested and ready to combine to work the final three innings tonight. And the Tigers offense, while not quite as explosive as the Yankees, did have 11 games of at least 10 runs scored this season (that was tied for eighth in the majors; the Yankees were third with 17).

But I think this is going to come down to Doug Fister. I suspect that Ivan Nova will give up two or three runs in six innings and that the Yankee bullpen will put up zeroes from there. So, if the Tigers get a performance from Fister that rivals the gems he delivered down the stretch (he had a 0.64 ERA in his final eight starts), they should win.

Yet my guess is that it won’t play out that way. Fister blew away my expectations for him this year, but I still don’t see him having the kind of stuff that plays well against the kind of lefty-heavy lineups that the Yankees feature. I think his giving up six runs in 4 2/3 innings back in Game 1 was less a bad performance from him and more the Yankees simply being better than he is.

So, we’ll see how it plays out. I’m picking the Yankees to win 8-3, but maybe Fister can prove me wrong yet again.

Yasmani Grandal played himself out of NLCS Game 4

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Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.

Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.

Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.

Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.