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10/08/06 3:00 PM ET

Tigers-Athletics: Rotation analysis

  Detroit Tigers

 Nate Robertson LHP
GAME 1 STARTER: Robertson started the ALDS opener at New York. Another young Tigers power arm who only needs more consistency to become a big winner. Robertson, however, put to rest the notion that he didn't have the stamina to be an innings-eater this year by leading the staff in innings pitched entering the final week of the season and going 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA in his first four September starts. Robertson has worked six innings or more in each of his past 18 starts and is especially tough when his slider is working.
Season numbers: (0-1, 11.12 ERA postseason; 13-13, 3.84 regular season)
Pitches: Fastball, slider, changeup
Speed: Low 90s to mid 90s mph

 Justin Verlander RHP
GAME 2 STARTER: The No. 2 overall pick of the 2004 draft, Verlander has emerged as one of the best young power pitchers in the game. His fastball has been clocked as high as 99 mph, and he gets it to the plate following an abbreviated delivery. Verlander has a plus curveball and a decent changeup. When all three pitches are working, Verlander is practically unhittable. He can get into trouble when he leaves his pitches up in the zone.
Season numbers: (0-0, 5.06 ERA postseason; 17-9, 3.63 regular season)
Pitches: Fastball, curve, changeup, slider
Speed: Low 90s to high 90s

 Kenny Rogers LHP
GAME 3 STARTER: Rogers came up with the game of his life in the Game 3 win over the Yankees, proving that while he doesn't throw as hard as he once did he still has good movement on his fastball and knows how to spot it well. He doesn't use the slider as often these days, but it hasn't hurt his performance as his curveball and changeup are both fine complements to his fastball. The veteran uses the defense extremely well, and Rogers himself remains one of the best defensive pitchers in either league. He's had a great pickoff move for years.
Season numbers: (1-0, 0.00 ERA postseason; 17-8, 3.84 regular season)
Pitches: Fastball, curveball, changeup, slider
Speed: Low 80s to low 90s

 Jeremy Bonderman RHP
GAME 4 STARTER: Bonderman has excellent stuff, but like a lot of young pitchers he struggles with command at times and is still learning how to pitch to Major League hitters. Bonderman relies on a mid- to high-90s fastball complemented by a sharp-breaking slider, and his splitter is coming on as another out pitch. He doesn't use his changeup often, and for good reason as it is his least reliable pitch. Bonderman had a solid first half but has had an ERA of around 5.00 since the break. He was perfect through the first five innings of his Game 4 victory in the ALDS clincher.
Season numbers: (1-0, 2.16 ERA postseason; 14-8, 4.08 regular season)
Pitches: Fastball, slider, splitter, changeup
Speed: Mid 90s to high 90s

  Oakland Athletics

 Barry Zito LHP
GAME 1 STARTER: The three-time All-Star has usually been a much better pitcher in the second half of the season but not this year, as his ERA is nearly 1.50 runs per game higher than it was before the break. Zito blamed the blip on a "mechanical lull" in his delivery and made adjustments in his most recent start to correct the problem. The results were certainly obvious in the ALDS, when he outpitched Johan Santana in Game 1. This is the sixth consecutive season the lefty has worked at least 200 innings.
Season numbers: (1-0, 1.13 ERA postseason; 16-10, 3.83 regular season)
Pitches: Two- and four-seam fastballs, cut fastball, curve, slider, changeup
Speed: Mid 80s to high 80s

 Esteban Loaiza RHP
GAME 2 STARTER:The A's raised eyebrows when they signed the 35-year-old Loaiza to a three-year, $21 million free-agent contract during the winter, but Loaiza made 26 starts and contributed 11 wins in 2006. Loaiza held the Twins to two earned runs in five innings in Game 2 of the ALDS, well enough to think he will keep his spot between Zito and Haren in the ALCS. Loaiza is winless in five career postseason games, including 0-1 with a 1.42 ERA for the Yankees in two ALCS games vs. Boston in 2004.

Season numbers: (0-0, 3.60 ERA postseason; 11-9, 4.89 regular season)
Pitches: Fastball, splitter, slider, changeup
Speed: 92-97 mph

 Dan Haren RHP
GAME 3 STARTER: In his second full season as a starter, Haren was marred by inconsistency, but he put together plenty of big performances under pressure, including the Division Series clincher against Minnesota. On Mother's Day at Yankee Stadium, he threw a shutout to help the A's prevent a three-game sweep, and his eight-inning gem at Minnesota in September was lauded by manager Ken Macha as Oakland's most impressive start of the season. Haren is no stranger to the playoffs, either. He was with the Cardinals as a rookie in 2004, appearing in five games out of the bullpen and posting a 2.16 ERA over 8 1/3 innings.
Season numbers: (1-0, 3.00 ERA postseason; 14-13, 4.12 regular season)
Pitches: Fastball, slider, curve
Speed: Mid 80s to low 90s

 Rich Harden RHP
GAME 4 STARTER: Having a well-rested power pitcher of Harden's caliber would provide a huge boost to Oakland's chances. The hard-throwing right-hander returned in mid-September after being on the disabled list since June 4 because of a sprained ligament in his right elbow. Before that, Harden was slowed by back problems. The early indications are that other than a little rust Harden is at last healthy and ready to fire his high-90s fastball and splitter. He did not appear in the ALDS and last pitched on Oct. 1.
Season numbers: (Has not pitched this postseason; 4-0, 4.24 regular season)
Pitches: Fastball, split-fingered fastball, changeup
Speed: High 80s to high 90s

Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.