Eighteen of 21 clubs that have taken a 2-0 lead in a series since the best-of-seven LCS format was adopted in 1985 have moved on to the World Series. So, right now, the Rangers have an 86% chance of going to their second consecutive fall classic.
I'm putting it at something more like 50-50...at best.
Colby Lewis made two starts against the Tigers this year. He pitched a total of 7.1 innings, surrendered 20 hits, 13 earned runs and walked four. The Tigers tuned him up at a .476 clip, banging out five homers along the way.
In his one start at Comerica in 2010, Lewis lost, giving up four runs on nine hits and a pair of walks in seven innings.
Obviously, Lewis doesn't have the stocked bullpen to fall back on that Holland had last night. Unless Lewis comes out with an entirely different game from any other he's pitched against the Tigers since his return from Japan, this could get ugly and Ron Washington might not have much of a choice but to leave Lewis out there to absorb a significant beating.
Game 4? Matt Harrison hasn't fared much better against the Tigers, going 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts spanning 10 innings this year. In his only start at Comerica, Ron Washington left him out there for six innings during which the Detroit lineup had their way, hitters .391 against him.
Prior to this season, Harrison appeared in seven games against the Tigers, starting five times. He posted a 6.89 ERA during those games and the Tigers hit .364 against him. He surrendered 47 Detroit hits while issuing 19 walks in 31.1 innings.
If Harrison can hold the Tigers to something like four runs over five innings on Wednesday, it would be a major upset.
Moving on to Game 5. Do you really expect to beat Verlander twice in a row? Without having the benefit of a rainstorm to knock him out of the game early? It could happen. Wouldn't bet on it.
Which brings us back to Game 6 and more Derek Holland. Last night, the Rangers bullpen turned in a miraculous performance to bail out the enigmatic Dutch Oven. I wouldn't count on them doing it again. They might, but I certainly wouldn't count on everything working out as brilliantly as it did in Game 2.
Holland is blessed with so much talent that his brilliant two-month run down the stretch this summer didn't come as a surprise, but he remains so immature that his implosion last night was equally unsurprising. Could the talent overcome whatever the hell it is that is going on inside of his head (if anything) next Saturday? I suppose so, but I doubt that I'll ever reach the point where I feel like Derek Holland will be mentally tough enough to become the dominant pitcher his physical gifts suggest he could be.
And should this series somehow make it to a Game 7, we are back to homer-prone 2011 Colby Lewis. Against a Detroit lineup that has owned him. At RBiA, where he has surrendered 22 bombs in 92 innings this year.
Here are splits for individual Tigers hitters against Texas in 2011:
Alex Avila: .385 / .429 / .808 / 1.236
Ryan Raburn: .423 / .464 / .615 / 1.080
Brennan Boesch: .351 / .415 / .649 / 1.063
Miggy Cabrera: .421 / 463 / .553 / 1.016
Delmon Young: .387 / .406 / .548 / .954
Victor Martinez: .344/ .410 / .438 / .848
Austin Jackson: .333 / .412 / .467 / .879
The optimists are sure to point out that those numbers were generated against a bullpen that no longer exists to a significant degree, but they got to that bullpen so much because they battered the Rangers starters so brutally.
And these are the same starters. Just how much of a load do you think this revamped and reloaded bullpen can carry?
Five to win two. It ain't going to be easy.