“Hey man – the playoffs are that way.”
88-70, 1st place, magic number is 3. Playoffs clinched.
Whether Sale will admit it, plunking VMart yesterday ignited this offense, provided some emotion that this team can really build off of, and assured a playoff spot. That said, can we all agree that a wild card slot would be immensely disappointing for this team? It’s a little different now than 2006, because “Wild Card” only guarantees one more game.
So our Tigers end the season with four at home versus the Twins. Probables:
Tonight 7:08 PM: Trevor May v. Max Scherzer
Friday: 7:08 PM: Anthony Swarzak v. Rick Porcello
Saturday: 7:08 PM: Ricky Nolasco v. Kyle Lobstein
Sunday: 1:08 PM: Kyle Gibson v. David Price
There’s a chance the the Tigers could tie for the division with the Royals, then win a one-game division deciding game, and get to skip the one-game wild card play-in game. Or they could tie for the division, then lose the one-game division deciding game, and still get another chance at a one-game playoff. In that scenario, the Tigers would have to lose 5/6 or 6/6 to not be playing in a playoff series next week. Thus, unless the Tigers get swept by the Twins AND the Royals win at least three from the White Sox (in which case we’ll be playing the A’s in the one game wild-card game), the Tigers will either be playing the Royals at Comerica on Monday for the division title, or will win the Central outright. More scenarios from the Freep here. Winning the division means a 5 game set against Baltimore. Losing the division but advancing via the wild card (assuming we get past Oakland) means a 5 game set against the Angels, who seem to average about 10 runs per game against the Tigers.
Beyond the obvious playoff seeding implications, clinching the division also significantly affects personnel headed into the playoffs. It looks like Nathan will be the first, but not only, choice for 9th inning situations, but how will Ausmus use Sanchez and Lobstein in the playoffs? I think that Verlander has earned his way into the rotation (as if he were ever out of it; see Albom’s thoughts here), but we really have no idea where Sanchez is. Sanchez’s ERA rose from 2.33 to 3.46 over his last 10 starts, and in his last 5 he allowed 4, 5, 4, 0, and 3 ER. It would be great to see him get significant innings over the weekend, and feel good about him being a long man in the playoffs. I don’t know if two starts is enough to say that “JV is back!” but it’s better than nothing. If I can be optimistic for a minute here – JV as an ace completely shifts the landscape of the AL playoffs.
In other news…
– Phil Hughes set the all-time K/BB ratio – 11.63. He walked only 16 in 32 starts this year (209 2/3) innings. Bret Saberhagen posted a rate of 11.0 while with the Mets in 1994. Cliff Lee is third on the all-time list with a 10.28 ratio in 2010, and Jim Whitney holds the fourth and fifth spots, respectively, after historic seasons in 1884 (10.00) and ’83 (9.86). Man, those were the days. Strohs were only 2 pence!
Game preview here.
1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Torii Hunter, RF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
4. Victor Martinez, DH
5. J.D. Martinez, LF
6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
7. Alex Avila, C
8. Eugenio Suarez, SS
9. Rajai Davis, CF