Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia About As Even As It Gets

We're almost underway in the second ALDS of the day, pitting the Detroit Tigers up against the New York Yankees. Everybody is present and accounted for in New York, and before too long we'll be into the first inning.

The whole narrative surrounding this game, if not the series, is that the Tigers have Justin Verlander, and the Yankees don't. That Verlander gives the Tigers an edge of which they need to take advantage. You can kind of understand where people are coming from, since Verlander finished 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA in 34 starts. Those are fantastic numbers, and Verlander's Game 1 opponent - CC Sabathia - finished at 19-8 and 3.00 in 33. Those numbers suggest that, in Game 1, the Tigers will throw the better arm.

But it's funny what happens when you look a little deeper. Let's concentrate on peripherals, and two statistics - FIP, and xFIP. How do Verlander and Sabathia come out?

FIP:

Verlander: 2.99
Sabathia: 2.88

xFIP:

Verlander: 3.12
Sabathia: 3.02

Verlander led Sabathia in ERA this season, but if you concentrate on the things over which pitchers actually have direct control, Sabathia was every bit as good, if not a tiny bit better. And it's not like Sabathia isn't a workhorse. CC Sabathia is pretty much the definition of a workhorse.

In Game 1, the Tigers will be starting Justin Verlander. He's great. The Yankees will be starting CC Sabathia. he's also great. Statistically, he's just as great. There are no clear edges here, and that's exactly why I'm looking forward to this game as much as I am.

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