The Yankees will be taking on the Detroit Tigers starting tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium for what will be the Tigers' first postseason appearance since 1987. It will be the first ever postseason series between these two teams, and the Tigers will be looking to win their first series since their victory in the 1984 Fall Classic. The Yankees have a 5-2 head to head advantage over Detroit this season.

This series, more than any of the other three first-round matchups, features two teams at opposite ends of the momentum spectrum. The Yankees are coming off probably one of their best regular seasons in the Joe Torre era, considering all the injuries and the contributions from some of their young players. Heck, it was probably one of their best seasons even without all that. The Yanks hung around early despite the loss of Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui thanks to the play of some of their young blood, meaning guys like Melky Cabrera, Chien-Ming Wang and Robinson Cano. As the Yankees got more healthy as the second half went on, they torched the rest of the A.L. East and won the division by 10 games over Toronto. Detroit, on the other hand, led the A.L. Central by 10 games on August 7 and then went through a total collapse. They still had a chance to wrap up the division during the last week of the season, but lost two in a row to the Royals and had to settle for their first wild card berth. Here's a look at some of the matchups:

SP: Joe Torre has announced that his starters for Games 1 and 2 will be Chien-Ming Wang and Mike Mussina, and Game 3 will be started by Randy Johnson if he is physically fit to pitch. Jaret Wright is the likely starter for Game 4, but if the Unit can't pitch, then Wright will likely be penciled in for Game 3 and Cory Lidle would get the ball for Game 4. The Tigers will probably go with a rotation of Nate Robertson (confirmed for Game 1), Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers and Jeremy Bonderman, in that order. Out of those four, only Bonderman (4.08) has an E.R.A. over 4. Chien-Ming Wang and Mike Mussina had very solid seasons for the Yankees, and Wang would be up for consideration for the Cy Young Award if Johan Santana didn't have to be so darn good. After that, it gets a little shaky. Even if Johnson is able to pitch, he's been on and off this season and hasn't been all that great in his last few postseason performances anyway. I call Jaret Wright and Cory Lidle reliable, only because they keep the Yankee lineup in the game, which basically means holding the opposition under 10 runs. Matchup-wise, the Yankees only have a definitive edge in Game 1, with probably a slight edge for Mussina over Verlander in Game 2 as well.
Edge: Tigers

IF: The Tigers' have one of the game's all-time best catchers in Ivan Rodriguez, and he is still a threat despite being 35 years old, as he hit .300 this year and once again led the American League in percentage of base stealers being thrown out. The rest of the group is a few not so well known guys, but that doesn't mean they should be taken lightly. Carlos Guillen had probably the best season of his career with a .320 average and an OPS of .919. The Tigers also made a nice move at the trade deadline by acquiring Sean Casey from the Pirates. The Yankees' infield, of course, is a force to be reckoned with, at least offensively. This is the place where the Yankees put Gary Sheffield because there was no room for him in the outfield. The Yankee infield features the #5 and #6 guys in the A.L. in OBP (Jeter and Giambi, although Giambi will likely be used only as a DH), and two of the top three players in batting average (Jeter and Cano). Oh yeah, they also have that guy over at third who gets heckled from time to time because his 35 HR and 121 RBI were not good enough.
Edge: Yankees

OF: The Yankees' outfield is probably the biggest strength for a very strong offensive team. As I mentioned, the Yankees had to boot perennial All-Star Gary Sheffield out of the outfield so there would be enough room for Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, and Melky Cabrera. Damon had a strong first season as a Yankee, hitting .290 and reaching a career high 24 home runs. Abreu was a phenominal pickup for the Bombers with his Paul O'Neill-esque hitting style, as he is among the game's best at fouling off tough pitches and getting on base. Matsui is rather hot and looks ready for the postseason, and Melky Cabrera is not too shabby of a choice for a 4th outfielder. The Tigers' outfield is solid as well, with Magglio Ordonez, the young CF Curtis Granderson, Craig Monroe and surprising former Yankee Marcus Thames. However, there are few groups of outfielders even in the past half century or so that can matchup with what the Yankees have offensively.
Edge: Yankees

Bench: Well, for starters, the Yankees have at their disposal one of the greatest postseason hitters of all time in Bernie Williams. Melky Cabrera will likely be used as some sort of super 4th outfielder, and aside from that the Yankees have mostly a bunch of light-hitting guys who can give them some solid defense late in games. The Tigers don't have too many recognizable names other than maybe Matt Stairs, but have some solid contributors in guys like Alexis Gomez, Neifi Perez and Omar Infante.
Edge: Yankees

RP: Detroit has the second best bullpen E.R.A. in the American League (3.51). They've got one of the game's hardest throwers in Joel Zumaya. It also doesn't hurt when your team has two of the better closers to pitch in the bigs in the last 10 years or so in Todd Jones and Troy Percival. The Yankees' 4.18 is the worst E.R.A. out of the eight teams to qualify for the postseason. However, a lot of the guys responsible for that inflated E.R.A. won't be seeing much time in the postseason. Scott Proctor put together the best season of his career this year, and Joe Torre has now placed trust in the hands of the surprising Brian Bruney, who was claimed by the Yankees off waivers and rewarded them with an E.R.A. under 1 and 11.1 K/9 IP. And, of course, the Yankees have the Hammer of God, and the Yanks figure to be holding a lead or two in this series, so the Tigers might have to look at a lot of Mo. It's hard not to give the edge to the Yankees just because of Rivera.
Edge: Even

Obviously there is a reason these games need to be played, but it really doesn't look good for the Tigers right now. They played mediocre baseball throughout the second half of the season and squandered a huge division lead. To come into Yankee Stadium and face such a dangerous Yankees' lineup after choking twice at home to the Royals is just very overwhelming. The Yankees are the better overall team and on top of that have more momentum going into this series. The Tigers need to get out of their funk fast or it's going to be a short series.
My Prediction: Yankees in 3