The Detroit Tigers completed a crucial sweep of the Chicago White Sox on Sunday to pull even in the AL Central division, with both teams at 72-61. The Tigers got it done on the mound, in the field and at the plate, as they earned Justin Verlander his 13th win of the season and handed Chris Sale only his 6th loss in the 4-2 finish. Detroit may now have the momentum, but do they have what it takes to clinch the Central down the stretch?
The Tigers definitely have the pitching rotation to get the job done with not only Verlander, but also another 200K+ pitcher in Max Scherzer this season. Detroit also has the bats, with Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young in the lineup. So, it’s really not a question if Detroit can clinch the Central, but it’s more if they can?
The White Sox are the only team standing in their way and although the Sox have led most of the season, things have certainly changed now. After a demoralizing sweep, the White Sox find themselves tied with their division rival with almost 30 games left in the season. The big bat of Adam Dunn has missed the last couple of games, but he is expected to return soon. Otherwise, the Sox should still be in good shape to continue their winning ways down the stretch, but they are going to have to beat their division nemesis; the Detroit Tigers to seal the deal in the Central.
Luckily, fans of this divisional rivalry won’t have to wait long, as the next meeting between these two teams takes place in a final four-game series September 10-13 in Chicago. This could likely be the turning point for either team in the race and could decide who goes to the postseason.
Out of its 29 games remaining, Detroit has 19 against teams under .500, including the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians, who are struggling like no one could believe. This gives the Tigers a great opportunity to seize the division if they can simply win easy games and split the tough games with the likes of the A’s and the Angels.
The White Sox have a very similar schedule, as they play 18 sub .500 teams out of 29 games, so it may very well come down to the games against the Tigers this upcoming week. The stakes are certainly raised for a White Sox team that more or less had things under control in the Central a week ago. Will the bats of Konerko and Dunn be able to step up? We will have to wait and see.
Coolstandings.com currently has Chicago at 56% to win the division, but this certainly doesn’t account for the momentum Detroit has gained over the last week. I liked Chicago all along in this race and although I still think they are a good team, the advantage is undeniably with the Tigers now. Detroit has the talent on both sides; the mound and the plate, and is peaking at the right time, not to mention is beating their rivals into the ground. This week’s sweep showed me that the Tigers are the new favorites and at 8/1 for the World Series compared to 15/1 for the Sox at Bovada, it seems clear that the Tigers are now the team to beat in the Central.