I anticipate a lot of hand-wringing by Tiger fans over the next couple days. There is going to be a lot of talk about how they could essentially blow their current lead over the Twins by the end of the weekend and fumble their shot at the postseason. I'd like to offer up some facts that will attempt to show just how unlikely that is.
As near as I can tell from looking at the current rotation and the remaining schedule, Porcello, Verlander, and Jackson are going to start in 12 of the 18 remaining games. That leaves six starts for some combination of Eddie Bonine, Nate Robertson, Jarrod Washburn, Zach Miner and Alfredo Figaro.
Since the tone we're trying to fight is pessimism, let's play that game and say the Tigers split the 12 in which their more trusted starters are toeing the mound. The storm clouds now directly above us, let's assume the Tigers win just one of the other six games. That means they close out the season on a 7-11 stretch. That sounds pretty awful, right?
Guess what. Even if they do that, they are still overwhelmingly likely to still beat out the Twins and White Sox. You know why? For the Twins to beat the Tigers to the division title in that instance, they would still have to win 12 of their 17 remaining games.
Do you know how many times over the course of the season the Twins have won 12 of 17 games? Zero. Their best record over 17 games is 11-6, and that would only earn them a tie.
The White Sox would have to come up with a 13-4 stretch to pull off the division title. Here's where the news gets pretty grim. They've actually been able to do that this season. From June 14 through July 3, they were 13-4 (and if you want to get technical, they also did it from June 13 through July 2). I suppose it's possible they have such a run in them again.
Remember, however, they have to combine that run with the Tigers going just 7-11 over their final 18 games. That would be the equivalent of the Tigers winning just one against the Royals (which, admittedly, seems very possible) and not winning another series the rest of the season. I know right now all this seems very possible, but if you pull back to the big picture it remains very, very unlikely.
Then again, I panned the Jackson trade, gave a reluctant thumbs-up to the Washburn trade, said they were a little crazy to call up Alex Avila and talked about the Tigers using the Royals as a springboard to a 10-game winning streak. So perhaps you should be looking for consolation elsewhere.
This uplifting article was made possible by baseball-reference.com.