10/07/11 6:10 PM ET
MLB Network experts offer ALCS predictions
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
Ken Rosenthal, Insider: "Tigers in seven. Justin Verlander already leads series, 2-0."
Mitch Williams, studio analyst: "I'm going to go with the Texas Rangers, basically because I think their young pitchers are going to step up, and I think they have the most potent offense in the postseason.
"Verlander is going to have a lot to say about it, obviously. He's been the best pitcher in the game this year. But if he goes out there and has an off day, that lineup in Texas can put some big, crooked numbers on the board.
"I think [the Rangers] are going to run wild in this series. I think every chance they get, [manager] Ron Washington is going to put them in motion, to put pressure on [catcher] Alex Avila and the pitching staff. Everybody knows when you steal a base, you aren't stealing off a pitcher. [Doug] Fister, he's 6-foot-8. That's a whole lot of arms and legs to get through a delivery. Verlander, he's not exceptionally quick to the plate. They're going to run, and run a lot."
Dan Plesac, studio analyst: "Detroit in six, because Verlander could pitch two times, weather permitting. But this is a very evenly matched series. Texas has more offensive firepower, but not by much."
Kevin Millar, co-host of "Intentional Talk:" "Texas in six, because I love their left-handed pitching and think they're the most balanced team in the postseason."
But if he had to go with Jose Valverde of Detroit or Neftali Feliz as his closer this series, Millar said: "I gotta go with Papa Grande, just because of the antics. 51-for-51 [in overall save opportunities] and the antics? You gotta love this."
Larry Bowa, studio analyst: "Texas in seven. I think it's going to be a great series, first of all. This was a tough pick for me, because I think they are two evenly matched teams. I'm going to give the edge -- and I hate doing this because one of my best buddies is Jimmy Leyland -- to Texas. I think Texas is going to win, but I think it's going to go the entire series.
"I just like the depth of Texas' lineup and the speed that they bring. They can also steal bases, they can hit-and-run. Whereas the Tigers, a very powerful lineup, can basically run base-to-base. I think with Texas having the extra game, the home field, they play exceptional when they're at home.
"Verlander's tough. No question, best pitcher this year in baseball. They're going to have to find a way to beat him. But I think you just have to take it one game at a time. It's not going to be easy pitching against Texas' lineup. The concern I have, a little bit, even though I am sticking with Texas, Texas' three left-handed starters against Detroit's right-handed potent lineup could be a little scary, but I still think they're going to do enough to get the job done."
Billy Ripken, studio analyst: "Detroit Tigers in seven. I said it before the postseason and I'm saying it now because I don't waffle.
"I think it will be a good series. They are the two teams that have demonstrated that they're the best in the AL, so it should go the best-of-seven.
"Texas is more than capable of hitting those pitchers, but the Tigers' aggressive style of pitching has a chance to handle the powerful Texas squad. The right-hand-dominant Tigers pitchers may match up well against the Rangers' left-handed hitters.
"It's probably the right matchup that can go down to Texas against a fastball-hitting team, and throw the fastball by them."
Greg Amsinger, studio host: "Detroit in 7. Justin Verlander is going to prove what he wasn't given the chance to against the Yankees. He will win three games and prove that he is by far the best pitcher in baseball."
Harold Reynolds, studio analyst: "Texas in six. It's going to be a long series. I don't see it going four or five games, but the Rangers are going to prove that their experience from last year is going to get them back to the World Series."
Ahmed Fareed, host/reporter: "Rangers in 6. As good as Verlander and the Tigers pitchers have been down the stretch, the Rangers have a way of making any pitcher look hittable, especially at home."
MLB Network's postseason coverage includes more than 150 live hours of programming, 20 more than last year. "MLB Tonight" airs live before and after every postseason game, with previews, highlights, interviews and analysis, and reporters on-site at each ballpark. Continuing a wave of active MLB players as guest analysts, Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan is scheduled to be in the studio Monday and Tuesday.