Keys to victory in ALCS 

October, 8, 2011
10/08/11
12:36
PM ET
Justin Verlander and C.J. Wilson Getty Images, US PresswireJustin Verlander and C.J. Wilson take the mound in Game 1 of the ALCS.

The Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers followed very similar paths to the American League Championship Series. Over the last 12 months, both signed impact free agents and made shrewd trades for undervalued players in the offseason and at the July 31 trade deadline. They both acquired effective eighth-inning relievers to set up their closers and boast young, strong-armed rotations. Indeed, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski and the Rangers' Jon Daniels followed the same template for success and find their teams pitted against near mirror images of themselves.

• Their managers, Jim Leyland and Ron Washington, respectively, pushed all the right buttons in the AL Division Series and have ample World Series experience. Both are very intelligent, calm, level-headed, focused and tremendous under pressure.

That includes making unpopular decisions as Leyland did by holding back Justin Verlander and not allowing him to pitch in Game 5 of the ALDS. The gamble paid off and Verlander will be well-rested for this series. Verlander boasts a fastball that will routinely touch 96-97 mph, even in the late innings, with a curve and changeup that easily rates a 70 across the scouting 20-80 scale.