Detroit Tigers Dissector: Will Chicago Unseat The Tigers?

Johnny LawrenceCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2009

CHICAGO - APRIL 07: Manager Ozzie Guillen #13 of the Chicago White Sox talks before the Opening Day game between the White Sox and the Minnesota Twins on April 7, 2008 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Welcome to Rudy Dominick and Johnny Lawrence's Week 16 installment of Detroit Tigers information and analysis. Each Thursday, we will delve into all things Tigers.

Read and digest, or skim and spit out our insightful banter.

Keep An Eye On...

Michael Bertram, First Base—Lakeland Flying Tigers (A)
(Since July 18)
.590, 13-22, 1 HR, 7 RBI

Drive-By Argument: Whose Back End Of The Lineup Is Stronger, Chicago or Detroit?

Gordon Beckham: .291, 3 HR, 23 RBI, 3 SB.
Chris Getz: .262, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 13 SB.
Jayson Nix: .220, 6 HR, 12 RBI, 5 SB.
DeWayne Wise: .196, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 2 SB.
Adam Everett: .246, 2 HR, 27 RBI, 3 SB.
Brandon Inge: .260, 21 HR 58 RBI, 2 SB.
Gerald Laird: .236, 4 HR 23 RBI, 1 SB.
Ramon Santiago: .254, 6 HR 25 RBI, 0 SB.
DOMINICK:  In my mind, Detroit's lineup is stronger seven through nine.

Head-to-head, I would take Inge and Detroit's shortstops over Chicago's second basemen (Getz/Nix) and whomever else on most given days.

Brandon Inge, a first time All-Star, gives Detroit the most productive player in the bunch. He is the runaway leader in homers and runs batted in.

While Laird's accomplishments are centered around defense and managing the pitching staff, he has provided at least a .250 average in every month except May (.178).

Beckham is a former No. 1 overall draft selection and has far more upside than Santiago or Everett, but Ramon has continued to improve offensively in recent years. Detroit wins this battle because Beckham is not ready to contribute at a consistent high level. If Chicago falters in its' attempt to take the AL Central crown, the end of the order will be a large reason why.

LAWRENCE:  I vehemently disagree with you this week, Rudy.
Chicago possesses more weapons at the bottom, especially with the big league emergence of Beckham. The Rookie of the Year candidate is batting .339 in July, including seven multi-hit efforts.

Just like Beckham, rookie second sacker Chris Getz has also improved as the season has progressed. The three-time All-State selection from Grosse Pointe South is hitting at a .333 clip so far this month.

While the weak links are evident at the bottom of each lineup, Chicago possesses pop and speed unlike Detroit. Inge's remarkable turn around has been well-documented to this point, but beyond Inge, few Tigers have stepped up beyond the sixth slot.

A third 2-1 defeat in four games cements my point. Get some help Tigers!

Will Chicago Barrel Over Detroit On The Way To First?

This is Week Two of our mid-season Minnesota and Chicago analysis. In our final installment, we will focus upon the White Sox threat to Detroit.

Second to Minnesota, Chicago has won two division titles since 2004, only once finishing below third. Much like the Twins, a strong pitching presence has kept the White Sox competitive in the light-hitting AL Central.

But on June 12, things looked bleak on the South Side. Chicago sat six-and-a-half games behind Detroit at 28-34.

Ineffective starting pitching lent to their disappointing beginning. Through the end of May, Gavin Floyd and Jose Contreras had contributed absolutely nothing to Chicago's repeat divisional attempt. Floyd put up a distasteful 6.11 earned run average in 60.1 innings, while Contreras underachieved at 8.32 in six starts.

When these arms began picking up the slack in June, the team hurdled itself up the standings. Chicago won 22 of the next 33 games, including the perfect game turned in by Mark Buehrle today.

Now sitting in a first-place tie with Detroit, Chicago travels to Detroit tomorrow to kick off a four-game series. With an opportunity to knock the Tigers out of the driver's seat for the first time since May 9, Chicago will smuggle a cache of hot bats and arms into Comerica Park.

Hot or not, Chicago players commonly present matchup problems for Detroit.

Since 2006, noted Tiger killers Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome have smacked 14 homers off Detroit pitching. In his career, Thome has shaken 59 dingers out off Tiger hurlers, who will at least deserve a thank you card upon his induction into baseball's Hall of Fame.

Luckily for slumping Tiger batters, they will not have to face the one pitcher who has owned them more than any over the decade. Buerhle, whose turn in the rotation does not come again until July 28, carries a career 14-8 record and 2.99 earned run average in 28 appearances against Detroit.

They will, however, not be able to avoid the much improved and always-dominant-against-Detroit Floyd. Undefeated against Detroit in his career (4-0), Floyd will toe the mound on Saturday.

Steam is pouring out of the White Sox dugout, and if the Tigers fail to start swinging the bats, they may be looking up at Chicago for weeks to come.

Favorable Matchups

July 24: DET Justin Verlander vs. CHI (Last Start: 9 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 9 K).

July 24-26: DET Brandon Lyon vs. CHI Batters (0.00, 5.1 IP, 1 H, 6 K).

July 26: DET Magglio Ordonez vs. CHI John Danks (.588, 10-for-17, 1 HR, 6 RBI).

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