The Oakland A’s went all in. The Detroit Tigers decided to call.
On Thursday, the MLB trading deadline turned into the ultimate poker tournament. Two of the top teams in the American League, the A’s and Tigers, both spent the day trying to stack their pitching rotations, their deck, if you will.
With the A’s trading for Boston Red Sox left-handed pitcher Jon Lester and the Tigers trading for Tampa Bay Rays left-hander pitcher David Price, postseason anticipation has skyrocketed, despite being two months away.
For the A’s, apparently the sting of losing to the Tigers the past two seasons in the ALDS was too much to handle. Watching Justin Verlander win back-to-back game 5s, in sunny California of all places, was definitely too much to handle.
Combined in those two game 5s, Verlander pitched 17 scoreless innings, allowing six hits, two walks and 21 strikeouts, in 6-0 and 3-0 series clinching wins.
Despite being shut out in both game 5s, the A’s have focused on their starting rotation. A rotation that now features four starters with sub-3.00 ERAs. Prior to landing Lester (1-1 vs. Tigers in 2013 ALCS), the A’s traded for Chicago Cubs starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.
As for the Tigers, bullpen help had been the priority (already have traded two pitching prospects for Joakim Soria) before a flurry of Tweets brought the baseball world up to date on a shuffle for Price. Adding Price gives the Tigers the past three American League Cy Young award winners, although, Verlander (9-9, 4.79 ERA) is pitching like anything but this season.
With the A’s trading outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox and prospects to the Cubs, the Tigers trading starting pitcher Drew Smyly and center fielder Austin Jackson to the Rays and Seattle Mariners respectively, the stakes have never been higher for either team.
Both teams are desperate for a World Series title.
It’s been 30 years since the Tigers last won a championship. It’s been 25 years since the A’s last won a World Series. The Tigers reached the World Series twice since, but failed to win championships in 2006 and 2012. The A’s lost in the 1990 World Series.
At this point, especially for the Tigers, anything less than a World Series championship will deem this season a failure.
Reaching the playoffs is no longer satisfying, winning the AL Central title isn’t enough, reaching the World Series doesn’t count as a consolation. Anything but a fifth championship in team history is a failure.
Both teams have made their bets. It’s now time to see which team has more aces in their hand.
Detroit Tigers Playoff History
Year Round Opponent Result
1907 World Series Chicago Cubs Lost, 0-4
1908 World Series Chicago Cubs Lost, 1-4
1909 World Series Pittsburgh Pirates Lost, 3-4
1934 World Series St. Louis Cardinals Lost, 3-4
1935 World Series Chicago Cubs Won, 4-2
1940 World Series Cincinnati Reds Lost, 3-4
1945 World Series Chicago Cubs Won, 4-3
1968 World Series St. Louis Cardinals Won, 4-3
1972 ALCS Oakland A’s Lost, 2-3
1984 ALCS Kansas City Royals Won, 3-0
World Series San Diego Padres Won, 4-1
1987 ALCS Minnesota Twins Lost, 1-4
2006 ALDS New York Yankees Won, 3-1
ALCS Oakland A’s Won, 4-0
World Series St. Louis Cardinals Lost, 1-4
2011 ALDS New York Yankees W, 3-2
ALCS Texas Rangers L, 2-4
2012 ALDS Oakland A’s W, 3-2
ALCS New York Yankees W, 4-0
World Series San Francisco Giants L, 0-4
2013 ALDS Oakland A’s W, 3-2
ALCS Boston Red Sox L, 2-4
AL Divisional Series 4-0
AL Champion Series 3-4
World Series 4-7 vs. New York Yankees 3-0
vs. Oakland A’s 3-1
vs. Chicago Cubs 2-2
vs. St. Louis Cardinals 1-2
vs. Kansas City Royals 1-0
vs. San Diego Padres 1-0
vs.Boston Red Sox 0-1
vs. Cincinnati Reds 0-1
vs. Minnesota Twins 0-1
vs. Pittsburgh Pirates 0-1
vs. San Francisco Giants 0-1
vs. Texas Rangers 0-1