Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 9/18/13
Heading into play on Wednesday, the Detroit Tigers have a 6-game lead in the AL Central and are all but ticketed for an ALDS matchup with the Oakland A’s. With all of that essentially being a foregone conclusion, let’s see why these last 11 games matter so much. Miguel Cabrera is wrapping up another dominant year Boston will almost certainly end with the AL’s best record and home field advantage throughout their playoff run. That doesn’t mean the Tigers can’t get some home field love of their own though. Detroit trails Oakland by just one win in the standings. Games 1 and 2 of the ALDS are set for Friday, October 4th, and Saturday, October 5th. If the Tigers can pass the A’s in the standings then Comerica Park will be rocking some playoff baseball on two prime weekend days. If not, the action will come back to Detroit for Games 3 and 4 on a Monday and a Tuesday. This is actually a big deal. The atmosphere will be electric either way but playing at home on the weekend would really ramp up the craziness level. 7-4 the rest of the way. If the Tigers can go 7-4 in their final 11 games then my preseason prediction of 95 wins will be spot on. Miguel Cabrera leads wonderboy Mike Trout in the batting average race .350 to .331. Barring something unforeseen, Cabrera will lock up his 3rd straight AL batting crown. He finished 2nd to Josh Hamilton in 2010. For a guy who rarely sniffs an infield hit this feat is truly phenomenal. Cabrera also leads the RBI race over Chris Davis 134 to 132. If he can edge Davis out he will have secured 2/3’s of the Triple Crown the year after winning all three categories. Translation: stud. Detroit seems committed to giving Jhonny Peralta a shot at left field. If he can show next week in the minors and in the Tigers’ final 3 regular season games in Miami that he can be productive with an outfield glove on his left hand then he will make the postseason roster and give the Tigers some nice versatility and another impact bat on the roster. Max Scherzer has a 2-game lead in the wins race over CJ Wilson, 19 to 17. Wins aren’t my favorite category to brag on but it would be a nice accomplishment for Max and probably sway a vote or two his way when the Cy Young award comes down. Assuming Anibal Sanchez doesn’t implode in each of his final two starts he should easily win the AL ERA crown as he currently sits at 2.51, well ahead of Oakland’s Bartolo Colon at 2.73. Sanchez will finish in the top 5 in AL Cy Young voting. +175. This number represents the Tigers’ run differential on the season. They have outscored their opponents by 175 runs thus far trailing only Boston’s +181 across all of baseball. No prize is handed out for winning this category but it does speak to the type of season the Tigers have had. 1,404. This one represents the most strikeouts ever recorded in a single season by a pitching staff and that was by the Kerry Wood/Mark Prior led Chicago Cubs of 2003. Detroit currently has 1,303 punch outs so they need 112 to break the record in their last 11 games, or just over 10/game. Given the Tigers’ opponents down the stretch (Mariners/White Sox/Twins/Marlins), this is within reach. The Tigers’ starting rotation has only missed 5 starts all year. Jose Alvarez filled in while Sanchez was ailing around midseason. This incredible consistency has allowed Leyland to line up his rotation order to perfection. If he wants to (and he should), he can go with Scherzer, Sanchez, Justin Verlander, and Doug Fister, in that order, come October. Rick Porcello’s previous career high in strikeouts was set last year at 107. He is currently at 130 with 2 more starts on the ledger for him to build on that total. His 6.96 K/9 rate is far and away the best of his career. Verlander needs just 11 K’s to reach the 200-K milestone for the 5th straight year. Sanchez is just 12 away from his 2nd career 200-K season and 15 away from setting a new career high. Scherzer has already secured his 2nd straight 200-K season and needs just five more to pass his best of 231, set last year. Reliever Bruce Rondon has been nursing a tender elbow but should begin throwing again today. He’ll need these last 11 games to get himself back to where he was, which was a dangerous weapon out of the pen. So there you have it. Certain players will be chasing some personal agendas over the final week and a half while Jim Leyland tries to organize his roster into postseason world-beaters, but one goal remains front and center – breaking a 30-year World Series drought. To receive an email each time a new Tigers article is published, fill out the Email Notification Form [Follow me on Twitter @isportsJoe]

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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