The Tigers have been a frustrating and confusing team all season, but because they are in a dreadful division—and the fact that the White Sox are one of the few teams that has played worse than the Tigers as of late—Detroit still has a chance to make the playoffs.
This four-game showdown for first place in the division will ultimately crown the American League Central champions.
The Tigers come into the series after getting swept by the Los Angeles Angels, and after traveling from the west coast on Sunday, the Tigers don't get a day of rest before beginning this crucial series in Chicago.
Detroit is 73-66 and currently two games behind Chicago for the division lead. The Tigers will start Rick Porcello (9-11) in Game 1 vs. Jose Quintana (5-4) and are projected to match up Doug Fister (8-8) against Jake Peavy (10-10) in Game 2. Max Scherzer (15-6) vs. Francisco Liriano (5-11) is set for the Wednesday matchup, and Justin Verlander (13-8) will face off against Chris Sale (16-6) for the finale.
The Tigers have won seven straight against the White Sox, sweeping Chicago in each of the last two series they've played against them.
Granted, those series were both at Comerica Park, and playing on the South Side is whole a different animal. But because of their recent success, the Tigers will go into the series with a tremendous amount of confidence.
Aside from losing seven straight to Detroit, Chicago has played poorly against the rest of the AL Central lately, allowing the Tigers to hang around in the pennant race.
The White Sox are coming off losing two of three games at home against the Kansas City Royals, and they are 3-7 in their last 10 games.
Chicago is the fourth-best team in the AL at home this season, boasting a 41-29 record at U.S. Cellular Field, and the Tigers are the fourth-worst AL team on the road, as they've gone 30-38 away from the friendly confines of Comerica Park.
Advantage: White Sox.
A sweep for the Tigers will put them in first place by two games with tremendous momentum, and a 3-1 series win, or a sweep for the White Sox would put them in the driver's seat with a five, or six-game lead, respectively.
If the Tigers go 3-1, there would be a tie atop the division, and if the series is split, we're back to square one, with the Tigers sitting two games back with only 19 games left.
This is far and away the most important series of the season for both teams, and it will ultimately decide who is crowned the 2012 AL Central champions.