While many baseball teams across the country are struggling during the Dog Days of Summer, two teams in particular have done their best to separate themselves from the pack.
Those two teams are the Atlanta Braves and the Detroit Tigers.
The National League East leaders, Atlanta, have strung together 12 consecutive victories since July 26—a streak that started with a three-game sweep over NL powerhouse St. Louis.
As for the streak put together by the American League Central leaders, Detroit currently sits at 10, which is a number that could have been higher had the Tigers not lost July 25 to the Chicago White Sox.
With both teams getting hot and pummeling their opponents into the ground, we have to ask ourselves: how long will both streaks last?
The first, and most obvious, component is to look at the upcoming schedules for both ballclubs to see how difficult their opposition will be.
After they finish up a three-game set with the Washington Nationals Wednesday night, the Braves will return home to Turner Field to play nine consecutive games against division opposition.
Against the NL East this season, the Braves are 28-16, a record that has been uplifted by five consecutive victories against the Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies.
With a fairly weak schedule and the home crowd behind them, the Braves could hypothetically bring their winning streak into Busch Stadium Aug. 22 against a Cardinals club out for revenge.
The next week on the schedule for the Tigers also presents some appetizing opposition.
Once they finish up with division rivals Cleveland Thursday, the Tigers will make the trek to the Bronx to take on a New York Yankees team that is mired in the Alex Rodriguez suspension controversy at the moment.
Following the trip to the Big Apple, a visit to the Windy City to play a three-game set against the White Sox awaits.
While looking at the schedule, it seems like both teams will have their way with their upcoming foes.
So, that means that you do have to dig a bit deeper to find out when each streak will end.
One of the biggest advantages that both teams have over any opponent they face is their starting pitching.
Detroit's starting rotation is one of the best in the majors, with 16-1 Max Scherzer leading the charge instead of the always strong ace Justin Verlander, who is 12-8 this season.
As if facing Scherzer and Verlander was not enough, the trio of Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello have combined for 27 wins between them this season as well.
The Braves also have some potent starters in their rotation, despite being without injured veterans Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm.
At 11-5, Mike Minor can be considered the ace of the staff at the moment with fellow young guns Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, Alex Wood and Brandon Beachy rounding out the staff at the moment.
If an opponent is able to either rough up a starter or keep the game close late into the eighth and ninth innings, there is a better chance that the Tigers will lose a game first.
The Braves possess a deadly bullpen anchored by closer Craig Kimbrel, while the Tigers' bullpen issues have been well-documented this season.
Closer Joaquin Benoit has just three saves during his team's winning streak because of the wide margin of victory that has been posted almost every night by his teammates, and not working on an every-night basis could shake up his rhythm on the mound.
That brings us to the advantage that the Tigers have: their offense.
With a middle of the order that features Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez, the Tigers have swallowed opposing pitchers whole during their 10-game win streak.
On three occasions during the streak, the Tigers have overpowered their opponents and scored more than 10 runs while they have been forced to squeak out just two one-run games.
The offense may be the strongest aspect of the game for the Tigers, but for the Braves, it is their one massive concern.
On any given night during the season, the sluggers in the Braves' lineup could be hitting 400-foot bombs over the outfield fence or striking out three times in a game.
The strikeout-prone lineup drew numerous concerns during the first part of the season, and for right now, those concerns have been put on the back burner.
Those concerns could easily reappear in one single game against any pitcher, which is why it is hard to believe that the Braves have failed to skip a beat during their 12-game streak.
By putting the vulnerabilities of each club into play along with who their upcoming opponents are, it is fairly easy to predict where each respective streak will end.
If you look at the list of probable starters who will go up against the Braves in the coming days, it would be hard not to expect a good outing out of Washington's Jordan Zimmermann Wednesday night.
In his one outing against Atlanta this season, Zimmermann went eight innings and struck out eight batters while conceding just two hits.
If the Braves can get past an emotionally-charged Nationals team, especially after Tuesday night's events involving Bryce Harper and Teheran, then their next big threat to lose would come Monday against Philadelphia's Cole Hamels.
Expect either Zimmermann or Hamels to shut down the Braves and end their streak at either 12 or 16.
As for who will derail the Detroit train, look no further than this weekend.
The Yankees are a team in need of some positive news and, more importantly, a positive performance for their fans to revel in.
While the Yankees are a pathetic team at the plate this season, they need an emotional boost, and beating the hottest team in the AL would do just that.
With two of three games being played this weekend at Yankee Stadium being nationally televised, expect the Yankees to defeat the Tigers at some point during the three-day span.
Now, I could be entirely wrong about these predictions, and both teams could head into next week with historic win streaks on their hands.
However, until that happens, it is still right to believe that both teams do have mere mortals playing for them and that eventually their flaws will come back to haunt them in at least one game.
How long do you think the winning streaks of the Braves and Tigers will last?
Comment below or leave me a comment on Twitter: @JTansey90
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