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MLB Boston Red SoxDetroit TigersMLB Playoffs

Tigers vs. Red Sox ALCS 2013: 5 Players Who Need to Step Up

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5 Players Who Need to Step Up: ALCS 2013

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

With the ALCS just beginning, the Boston Red Sox are set to host the Detroit Tigers in the playoffs for the first time in recent memory. Prior to the 2013 season, nobody thought the Red Sox would contend for an AL East title, but John Farrell took over as the manager and led this team to an unpredicted 97-win season.

After losing Terry Francona to the Cleveland Indians, the Red Sox seemingly had no hope, but Farrell turned this team into a playoff one after an underachieving 2012 season in which the Sox melted down and missed the playoffs thanks to a collapse in the last week of the season.

On the other side of the diamond, the Detroit Tigers are headed to their third straight ALCS appearance. Although they don't have home-field advantage, that has yet to plague the Tigers in the playoffs for the last couple of seasons. Detroit has been one of the best teams in the American League under Jim Leyland since 2006, making the playoffs four times, the ALCS four times and the World Series twice -- looking for their third appearance under Leyland in 2013.

Detroit finished the regular season with 93 wins and was swept in the final series of the season, leading to a close one-game victory of the Central Division title. The offensive struggles have continued into the postseason thus far, but the pitching staff has elevated this team to a new level and a chance at yet another World Series appearance. Some may argue that the Tigers boast the best pitching rotation in baseball, with no starter in the Tigers' playoffs four-man rotation with an ERA above 3.70 in the regular season.

This is sure to be a great series matching up the best overall team in baseball with the team with the best pitching staff in baseball and one of the top lineups. Who will come out on top? That will be up to these five players that need to step up for both sides in order to give their team the victory in the ALCS.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at muldown5@gmail.com.

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Max Scherzer, SP

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Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Scherzer is the likely AL Cy Young award winner, but he has struggled at times in the postseason. He has accumulated two wins, but he came out of the bullpen in Game 4 against the Oakland Athletics and looked wild. He will need to be as consistent as he was in the regular season in order to lead the Tigers to success.

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Clay Buchholz, SP

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Clay Buchholz started just 16 games in the regular season and posted an ERA of 1.74. In the postseason, he pitched the only game that the Red Sox lost in the ALDS. He will need to get back to regular season form for the ALCS.

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Miguel Cabrera, 3B

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Cabrera is hitting just .250 in the postseason just far with just one home run. He has been hampered with injuries for the past month or so and it has been a while since his power has been a factor in the game. This will need to change in order for the Tigers to take the series.

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David Ortiz, DH

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Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

David Ortiz is Boston's best hitter by a good margin. He has been great so far in the postseason with a .385 average and two homers, but will need to carry that into the ALCS. It seems like the Red Sox offense feeds off the success of Ortiz.

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Joaquin Benoit, Closer

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Joaquin Benoit will need to be far more trustworthy in the ninth inning with a lead of three runs or less. He has been up-and-down for the past couple of games and that will need to change in order for Detroit to close out games.