Are the Detroit Tigers that good or the Chicago White Sox just that bad
The Tigers have won five of six games from the White Sox in recent weeks. In their other games since Aug 28, they are 1-8 against the Royals, Indians and Angels.
It's led to the Tigers essentially falling out of the wild card race. It's either finish ahead of the White Sox - or bust. It's difficult to imagine it will be bust given the White Sox ineptitude.
It's apparent winning the AL Central is not going to require a monumental achievement. The Tigers have one tough series left, against Oakland, but it's at home, which has been the biggest factor in Detroit's success or failure this season. The White Sox have two series against contenders, at the Angels and hosting the Rays.
Can the Tigers beat the Indians this weekend? Seems like a ridiculous question considering no club in baseball is playing worse than the Tribe. The Indians won a three-game series from the Tigers just last week at Comerica Park and are 5-1 vs. Detroit in Cleveland, though.
Can the Tigers beat the Royals? The Royals have had a tremendous impact on the AL Central race by routinely and methodically winning against both Detroit and Chicago. Oh, but the Royals are 12 games below .500.
Can the Tigers beat the Twins? We all know what the Twins have traditionally done to the Tigers at points that matter. Ah, come on, the Twins, like the Indians, are 25 games below .500.
In the bigger picture, those are all bad baseball teams. If the Tigers can't beat them, or beat out the White Sox to win the division, it would be a crushing blow to baseball in this town like few others.
As for the White Sox, for all the criticism Tigers manager Jim Leyland justifiably has gotten lately for his goofy lineups that didn't work and his fans don't know "bleep" about the lineup comment, White Sox manager Robin Ventura's handling of the White Sox bullpen this week has been awful - especially the move where he used deposed starter Francisco Liriano late in a close game Tuesday, which appears to be the turning point of the season.
I strongly feel this about the Tigers: They just need to get into the playoffs. If they get in, their chances of advancing are as good any club in the AL other than Texas. It's because of their starting pitching.
Of course, it all hinges on Justin Verlander performing at the standard he's set, but didn't live up to in two of his last three starts.
We'll know about whether Verlander's recent struggles are a trend or an aberration after tonight.