Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Can the Tigers make it deep into the playoffs?

Who has the biggest divisional lead in baseball? Easy, the Dodgers. Who has the 2nd biggest divisional lead in baseball? Suprisingly, its the Detroit Tigers. They have a 4.5 game lead over the Twins. The Tigers have the 9th best record in baseball, but they are blessed by the weakness of their division.

Can the Tigers make it to October? Absolutely. The Central Division looks weak this year and it may only take 90 wins or so to win it. They are in the middle of a critical 5 game series in Chicago against the White Sox right now, and have won 2 of the first 3. They have Verlander and Jackson going in the next two, which gives them a very good chance to finish strong. Winning those two games would put the White Sox 7.5 games out, a high hurdle at any point in the season. Anything is possible, but none of the other teams in the division has shown any reason to think they can make a run.

Do the Tigers have a chance of going deep in the playoffs? Yes. Edwin Jackson would probably be second in the AL in Cy Young balloting right now, behind Zack Greinke. Justin Verlander is showing that last year was an aberration in a brilliant career. Two great starting pitchers can make any playoff team competitive, particularly in the 5 game divisional series. The bullpen is inconsistent and several of their better hitters are having off years (Polanco, Ordonez). If they get a little more offense and they can get good pitching out of Rick Porcello and Armando Galarraga, they can be a force to be reckoned with.

In October, should they get there, the Red Sox are always dangerous, but less so without a strong Big Papi and the Rangers have a history of disappointment in October. The Yankees have been making early exits for several years as well. The team I would be worried about is the LA Angels. They are only starting to get their staring rotation together this year and their bullpen is likely to improve. But, if Jackson and Verlander keep pitching like this, they might be the best 1-2 punch in the playoffs, and that could be hard to beat.

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