Here's how 11 former Detroit Tigers players did in first round of MLB playoffs
Several former Tigers excel in division series
DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers have been out of the playoff picture for five months, but several of the organization's former players made appearances in the first round of the MLB postseason.
In all, nine former Tigers players and two former prominent prospects appeared in American League or National League division series games.
Here's a look at how all 11 fared in the first round of action.
Willy Adames -- Rays
Tigers tenure: Minor league prospect from 2013-2014
How he left: Sent to Rays in 2014 David Price trade
One of only two players on this list who never actually played for the Tigers at the MLB level, Willy Adames played in all five games of the ALDS against the Houston Astros.
Ranked a top 25 prospect in baseball before his debut in 2018, Adames excelled in his first postseason action, hitting two home runs and a double, walking three times and posting a 1.423 OPS against an incredible Astros pitching staff.
Tampa Bay isn't moving on, but Adames certainly did his part, reaching base eight times in five games.
Avisail Garcia -- Rays
Tigers tenure: 2012-2013
How he left: Sent to White Sox in 2013 Jose Iglesias trade
It would be an understatement to say the early comparisons to Miguel Cabrera never quite panned out for Avisail Garcia, but he's still had a solid MLB career thus far.
In his first season with the Rays, Garcia rebounded to hit a career-high 20 home runs. He played in four of the five games against the Astros, picking up five hits -- all singles -- in 16 at-bats.
Last time Garcia was in the postseason, he was a 21-year-old rookie in a loaded Tigers lineup. He had five hits in the 2012 ALCS sweep of the New York Yankees before going hitless in the World Series.
He wasn't a major offensive factor this year against Houston, but he held his own.
Chad Green -- Yankees
Tigers tenure: Minor league prospect from 2013-2015
How he left: Sent to Yankees in 2015 Justin Wilson trade
As the Tigers continue to search for reliable bullpen arms, it stings to see Chad Green turn into a dominant late-inning option for the Yankees.
Green struck out 98 batters in 69 innings this season and has a career 12 strikeouts per nine innings. He has elite stuff and combines great strikeout numbers with a low walk rate, a strong WHIP and the ability to go multiple innings.
Green made two appearances against the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS, hurling two scoreless innings with one strikeout and two hits allowed. Not only was the series a three-game sweep, the games were also blowouts, so there weren't many high-leverage situations for Green to take advantage of.
Shane Greene -- Braves
Tigers tenure: 2015-2019
How he left: Sent to Braves at 2019 trade deadline for Travis Demeritte and Joey Wentz
The Braves gave up a high-end pitching prospect in Wentz to acquire Shane Greene for this exact moment, and he yielded mixed results in his first career postseason action.
Overall, Greene allowed just one run in 2.2 innings while striking out three batters in the NLDS. He wasn't exactly sharp, allowing four hits and getting only two swinging strikes in 37 pitches.
Greene struggled in the biggest moment, though, allowing the Cardinals to tie Game 4 after entering with a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. He didn't give up any hard contact, but a broken bat double from Paul Goldschmidt and a bloop single from Yadier Molina was enough to tie the game.
St. Louis would eventually go on to win the game and, two days later, the series. Greene's eighth inning in Game 4 was among the biggest factors in ending Atlanta's season.
Even though he was slightly unlucky in that inning, Greene couldn't get a swing and miss when he needed it, leaving himself susceptible to weak hits.
Matt Joyce -- Braves
Tigers tenure: 2008
How he left: Sent to Rays in 2008 Edwin Jackson trade
Matt Joyce played his rookie season in Detroit more than a decade ago, and he's played for five teams since then.
In his first season with the Braves, Joyce excelled in a part-time role, posting an .858 OPS in 238 plate appearances. He had nearly as many walks as strikeouts this season and chipped in 10 doubles and seven home runs.
He played in all five games of the NLDS -- his first postseason action since 2013 with the Rays.
Joyce wasn't nearly as effective in the playoffs, going 1-for-10 with a single, a walk and two strikeouts. It was a frustrating week for the 34-year-old, and Atlanta once again failed to get out of the first round.
Cameron Maybin -- Yankees
Tigers tenure: 2007, 2016
How he left: Sent to Marlins in 2007 Miguel Cabrera trade; sent to Angels in 2016 Victor Alcantara trade
Remember Cameron Maybin's first career home run -- off of Roger Clemens in Yankee Stadium as a star rookie for the Tigers?
Since then, the Tigers have traded Maybin twice -- once for a future hall of famer -- and seen him play for eight other teams.
This year, he did a complete 180 from that first career home run, donning the pinstripes and playing extremely well for the Yankees. He was among a handful of former unremarkable players to break out in a part-time role in New York this season.
Maybin posted an .858 OPS -- yes, exactly the same as Joyce's -- with 17 doubles and 11 home runs in 82 games.
He appeared in all three games of the ALDS sweep, going 1-for-3 with a home run, two strikeouts and two stolen bases.
Maybin is looking to earn his second World Series ring in three years after winning one in Houston two years ago.
Andrew Miller -- Cardinals
Tigers tenure: 2007
How he left: Sent to Marlins in 2007 Miguel Cabrera trade
Coincidentally, Andrew Miller was traded from Detroit in the same deal that sent Maybin to the Florida Marlins for Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. While Maybin was considered the organization's No. 1 position player, Miller was the team's top pitching prospect.
Both are moving onto their league championship series, though Miller had a much more important role in keeping the Cardinals alive in what was a tight series for four games.
Miller has his worst season since being moved to a relief pitcher in 2012, but he came through when it mattered most.
The 34-year-old is in the playoffs for the sixth straight season after reaching the postseason with the Baltimore Orioles in 2014, the Yankees in 2015 and the Indians from 2016 to 2018.
Miller pitched in all three games, allowing three base runners in two scoreless innings.
In Game 1, Miller came in with a runner in scoring position and stranded him by getting Josh Donaldson to line into a double play. That ended up being a big moment, as the Cardnials came back and won 7-6.
He got a critical out in Game 3, coming in with the bases loaded and two outs to face Freddie Freeman with a 1-0 lead. Miller got a fly out to preserve the lead, but closer Carlos Martinez blew the game in the ninth.
In Game 4, with the Cardinals down a run in the seventh inning, Miller came in with a runner on third and one out. He struck out Freeman and got a fly out to end the inning after walking the bases loaded. It wasn't pretty, but Miller kept the game within one run, and the Cardinals eventually tied the game against Greene and won in extra innings.
It was a rough 2019 season for Miller, but the Cardinals wouldn't still be alive without him.
Fernando Rodney -- Nationals
Tigers tenure: 2002-2009
How he left: Granted free agency after 2009 season
Fernando Rodney's last appearance as a Tiger resulted in one of the most heartbreaking moments of the team's decade of relevance.
The Tigers and the Twins tied for the division title in 2009 and played a Game 163 tiebreaker. Detroit took a lead in the top of the 10th inning and just needed a scoreless bottom half to advance, but Rodney blew the save. Two innings later, he gave up a walkoff hit.
Rodney has played with 10 teams since leaving the Tigers a decade ago, and he's in the postseason with his fifth different team in the last seven seasons.
He appeared in two games against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and -- in typical Fernando Rodney fashion -- allowed two hits and three walks but didn't surrender a single run.
Rodney has been making shaky bullpen appearances for 17 seasons, but there's a reason he seems to always find himself on playoff rosters.
Anibal Sanchez -- Nationals
Tigers tenure: 2012-2017
How he left: Granted free agency after 2017 season
In 2013, Anibal Sanchez was legitimately one of the best pitchers in baseball as the Tigers made their last real run at a World Series ring. Four years later, he looked like he was done for good.
But after the Tigers declined his option for the 2018 season, Sanchez revitalized his career with a strong 2018 in Atlanta. He backed it up with another decent year in Washington, and he earned a start as a 35-year-old in the NLDS.
With the series tied 1-1, Sanchez started the critical Game 3 for the Nationals. He was excellent, dominating a loaded Dodgers lineup for five innings, allowing just one run on four hits and striking out nine batters.
Los Angeles immediately scored seven runs in the sixth inning after Sanchez was pulled, so he was clearly back to his old form.
He'll get at least one more start this postseason as the Nationals advance to the NLCS.
Max Scherzer -- Nationals
Tigers tenure: 2010-2014
How he left: Granted free agency after 2014 season
Take a deep breath, Tigers fans. These next two are gonna hurt.
It's been difficult for Tigers fans to watch Scherzer blossom from a Cy Young Award winner in Detroit to one of the top three pitchers in baseball with the Nationals.
In five seasons with the Nats, Scherzer has a strikeout rate of 11.7 per nine innings, a 0.94 WHIP, a 2.82 FIP and a 2.74 ERA. He's made the All-Star team in all five seasons and won two more Cy Young awards.
Scherzer wasn't his normal self in the NL Wild Card game against the Brewers, allowing three runs in five innings. He was lucky to get another start after Juan Soto saved the day, and he took advantage in the NLDS.
In Game 2, Scherzer entered in the eighth inning with a two-run lead and struck out Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor and Joc Pederson in a row.
He got his only start of the series three days later, going seven innings, striking out seven batters and allowing just one run to keep his team alive.
Scherzer is still one of the most dominant pitchers in the game, and he has another gear when playoff time arrives.
Justin Verlander -- Astros
Tigers tenure: 2005-2017
How he left: Sent to Astros at 2017 waiver trade deadline for Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron and Jake Rogers
When Justin Verlander was first sent to Houston, Tigers fans rooted heartily for him to win a World Series. He did so that very season, and since then, the mood has changed dramatically.
Verlander is the longest tenured and most accomplished former Tigers player in the league. But since he joined the Astros, he's hit another gear.
The last two years in Houston have been even better for Verlander than his MVP 2011 season in Detroit. He's got a career 0.84 WHIP, 2.45 ERA, 3.00 FIP and 12.1 K/0 in 73 games with the Astros.
He also threw his third no-hitter this season.
The mentality has gone from, "We wish Verlander all the best," to, "OK, chill out. You're supposed to be remembered as a Tiger."
Well, Verlander added another legendary performance to his playoff resume this series, going seven shutout innings in Game 1 while allowing just one hit and striking out eight batters.
Manager A.J. Hinch got greedy and pitched Verlander on three days of rest for Game 4, and it backfired, as the 36-year-old allowed four runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings.
Overall, though, Verlander struck out 13 batters in 10.2 innings while allowing just four runs. It's unusual that he walked six batters, but for the most part, he was vintage Verlander.
When he gets the ball in Game 2 against the Yankees, Verlander will be looking to erase any memory of that rough outing.
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