Legends On Deck

A Tigers Fan’s Preview of the 2019 World Series

The 2019 World Series was set last night, when Jose Altuve hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 9th to send to Houston Astros to their second Series in three years.  Awaiting are the Washington Nationals, who swiftly swept the St. Louis Cardinals to ascend to their first World Series in franchise history (Montreal and DC).

If you are a Detroit Tigers fan, you will find a few familiar faces on both teams pitching staffs.  In 2017, most Tigers fans cheered for Justin Verlander when he helped capture a World Series victory for the Astros.  It also served as a painful reminder of the decade long run in Detroit that included four AL Central title (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014) and two AL Pennants (2006, 2012) without a World Series victory.  If 2017 prompted Tigers fans to ask, “what happened?,” 2019 will amplify that very question.

Justin Verlander will pitch in his fourth Fall Classic, coming off a likely Cy Young Award winning regular season.  He racked up 21 Wins, led MLB in WHIP (.803) and innings pitched (223), threw his third career No-Hitter in early September and joined the 3,000 career strikeout club.  Along with teammates Gerrit Cole and Zack Grienke, they make up the most dominant starting rotation in MLB.

Verlander was quite familiar with strong pitching staffs even prior to being traded to the Astros.  His opponents this week include two former Tigers teammates, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez.  Verlander and Scherzer were part of the same Tigers rotation from 2010-2014, prior to Scherzer’s departure to DC.  During this time, they led the Tigers to four consecutive division titles and a 2012 AL Pennant.  Verlander won the AL Cy Young in 2011 and Scherzer did the same in 2013.  Sanchez would join the Tigers (via trade) in 2012 and overlap with Verlander and Scherzer in the 2013 and 2014 seasons.  This stellar rotation would include Rick Porcello, who would go on to win the 2016 AL Cy Young with Boston.  Not to mention, for half the 2014 season, David Price (2018 World Series MVP) would fill out the Tigers rotation.

To summarize, here’s what the Detroit Tigers starting rotation looked like in the late summer of 2014, heading into the postseason:

  • Justin Verlander
  • Max Scherzer
  • Anibal Sanchez
  • Rick Porcello
  • David Price

The Tigers would go on to be swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS and the division rival Kansas City Royals would go on to win the AL Pennant.  Max Scherzer’s departure to Washington following the 2014 season marked the beginning of the end of the Tigers era.

Scherzer would go on to become arguably the most dominant pitcher in the National League, capturing back to back Cy Young’s in 2016 and 2017.  The road for Anibal Sanchez was a bit rockier.  In his last season in Detroit (2017), Sanchez finished 3-7 with a 6.41 ERA.  Although, he would quickly rebound with Atlanta in 2018 and now Washington in 2019.

Yet another former Tiger pitcher has found his way into this year’s World Series with Washington.  Reliever Fernando Rodney came up with Tigers in 2003 and pitched in Detroit through the 2009 season.  Rodney would go on to pitch for nearly half the franchises in MLB after departing Detroit.  And finally, Houston Astros First Base Coach is none other than former Tiger, Don Kelly.  Kelly, a favorite of Jim Leyland (Donnie Kelly Baby), was a regular in the outfield from 2009-2014.

This week, as baseball fans tune into the 2019 Fall Classic, Tigers fans in particular will be constantly reminded of the last two decades of what almost was.

Brian Koss

Brian has been a contributing writer to Legends on Deck since April 2017. He’s a diehard Detroit Tigers fan, who grew up playing and following baseball in the suburbs of Detroit. He covers the Tigers and their farm system for LOD and also likes writing about the general state of baseball. Brian and his family reside in the suburbs of Orlando, where he enjoys coaching Little League and passing on his love of the game to the next generation.
Brian Koss
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