Apparently the Tigers aren’t going to make this easy on us fans. With a two game lead in the standings, a magic number of five, and six games left versus the lowly Twins and Royals, the Tigers nearly had a hammer lock on the division. Simply winning both series would guarantee at least a one-game playoff, and that’s only if the White Sox won their final six games.
But the Tigers promptly dropped their series opener with the Twins, and White Sox remembered out how to win a game, and so now Detroit finds themselves in the precarious position of trying to hold a one game lead.
Yesterday’s results cost the Tigers 15.2% in the playoff odds given by Cool Standings, and 17.9% in the odds as reported by Baseball Prospectus. The Tigers still have the advantage both on the schedule and according to the odds makers – now roughly 72% and 69% respectively – but they’ve already used their one “grace” game and are back in win-now mode.
In order to feel really good about their chances of staving off Chicago, they’ll probably need to carry at least a one game lead into the final series of the year (though a game lead would be nice). With Justin Verlander on the mound today, and Anibal Sanchez pitching tomorrow, the Tigers are in a good position to at least hold serve in the division. But it’s each pitchers last start of the year, so they can ill-afford to waste them.