Every year around this time, I like to project the number of wins the Tigers will end up with. I did not see anything like Detroit's amazing 22-4 run that occurred last season. Most years, I feel I come pretty close.
This year is funny. Before the season, I saw a 90-92 win team. It was maybe a slightly better team than the one the Tigers had last year -- on paper anyway. But it seemed quite possible Detroit could both be a better team and not win as many games. The schedule was slightly more difficult, and the 2011 squad went on an unlikely run to end the year. So I came up with fewer wins.
For the first two-plus months of the season, the team made you question whether they'd be a bigger disappointment than in 2008. They couldn't even win two games in a row for a period of what, six weeks?
They got things on track during Interleague play, and have been playing above at a.610 clip since the All-Star break despite coming into the second half with a somewhat difficult schedule. (According to CoolStandings.com, when the second half opened Detroit's remaining opponents had a combined winning percentage of .513. making the Tigers' road the most difficult.)
Now things ease up. Twenty-two of Detroit's final 35 games are against the Twins, Indians and Royals. If the Tigers stay focused and avoid any major derailments along the way, they might just get to 90 games after all.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about the rest of the season:
Tigers' remaining strength of schedule: .477 (Cool Standings)
Home/away records: Home: 39-26; Away 30-32
Home/away games remaining: Home: 17; Away: 19
First-half winning %: .512
Second-half winning %: .610
at Royals (3)
So far: 7-1 (3-0 in Kansas City)
Prediction: The pitching matchup favors Detroit in all three games, and they've handily taken care of the Royals this season. But I hate to predict a sweep. So I'll say Tigers win the series, 2-1.
vs White Sox (3)
So far: 7-4 (5-1 in Detroit)
Prediction: We know Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander will pitch in this series. We do not know whether Doug Fister or Drew Smyly will get the nod. The Tigers swept the Sox during the last series in Detroit, but again, safer to say 2-1. It will be an entertaining series.
vs. Indians (3)
So far: 5-7 (4-2 in Detroit)
Prediction: The home team has been pretty dominant for most of this series. Cleveland did take two of three in Detroit while the Tigers were struggling a bit, though. Looks like it should be Sanchez, Porcello and Fister on the mound for the Tigers. Cleveland's not nearly as good as it was earlier this year. I'm feeling 2-1 is safe.
at Angels (3)
So far: 5-2 (all in Detroit)
Prediction: The Tigers get a day off if they want to move the rotation members around a bit. so it's harder to project rotations from this point forward. It looks like Scherzer, Verlander and Sanchez going for Detroit. LA isn't a real strong home team, but you have to go back to 2009 for a Tigers series win there. This could be the year. Still, safer to say 1-2.
at White Sox (4)
So far: 7-4 (2-3 in Chicago)
Prediction: It appears the Tigers should have Verlander pitching in the final game of this series with only Sanchez missing out. Anyway, I'm going ultra-conservative and saying the Tigers win just one game of the series. This helps balance out what might be seen as optimism elsewhere. However, it really is hard to see how they don't find a way to split.
at Indians (3)
So far: 5-7 (1-5 in Cleveland)
Prediction: The home team has done well, but at this point I think you have to note Detroit's just a much stronger team. 2-1 Tigers.
vs. A's (3)
So far: 2-2 (all in Oakland)
Prediction: This looks like the last "tough" series for the Tigers. It's the last one against a playoff contender, anyway. Detroit takes two.
vs. Twins (3)
So far: 7-5 (2-2 in Detroit)
Prediction: The Twins haven't rolled over as easily as we'd wish, but they haven't been a wall halting Detroit's progress either. 2-1
vs. Royals (4)
So far: 7-1 (4-1 in Detroit)
Prediction: I have to go with 3-1 based on everything we've seen this year.
at Twins (3)
So far: 7-5 (5-3 in Minnesota)
Prediction: Detroit hits the road for the final six games of the year, and it still doesn't have a playoff spot sewn up. Tigers fans remembering history are already shaking like leaves. A 1-2 Minnesota trip doesn't help.
at Royals (3)
So far: 7-1 (3-0 in KC)
Prediction: You know what a thorn in the Tigers' side the Royals have been this season. Make or break: The Tigers make away with two.
If I've added everything up properly, this is what I see. Even if it doesn't add up like the above, this is still what I see:
Record today: 69-58 (.543)
Record for rest of the year: 21-14 (.600)
Final record: 90-72 (.555)
So if you know me, I'd call that a high likelihood of 89 to 91 wins and I'll call 90 my most likely figure. Will the series happen just like I called them? I really doubt it. But they might trip up at home and make it up on the road. They might sweep and get swept. Whatever. In the end, this is just what feels most likely to happen to me.
Is that record good enough to make the playoffs? What do you think?
BONUS INFO (compiled by Tigerdog1)
|August 28||Tuesday||at Kansas City||Verlander|
|August 29||Wednesday||at Kansas City||Sanchez|
|August 30||Thursday||at Kansas City||Porcello|
|August 31||Friday||Chicago||Fister/ Smyly
|Sept 7||Friday||at LA Angels||Scherzer|
|Sept 8||Saturday||at LA Angels||Verlander|
|Sept 9||Sunday||at LA Angels||Sanchez|
|Sept 10||Monday||at Chicago||Porcello|
|Sept 11||Tuesday||at Chicago||Fister|
|Sept 12||Wednesday||at Chicago||Scherzer|
|Sept 13||Thursday||at Chicago||Verlander|
|Sept 14||Friday||at Cleveland||Sanchez|
|Sept 15||Saturday||at Cleveland||Porcello|
|Sept 16||Sunday||at Cleveland||Fister|
|Sept 24||Monday||Kansas City||Verlander|
|Sept 25||Tuesday||Kansas City||Sanchez|
|Sept 27||Thursday||Kansas City||Fister|
|Sept 28||Friday||at Minnesota||Scherzer|
|Sept 29||Saturday||at Minnesota||Verlander|
|Sept 30||Sunday||at Minnesota||Sanchez|
|October 1||Monday||at Kansas City||Porcello|
|Oct 2||Tuesday||at Kansas City||Fister|
|Oct 3||Wednesday||at Kansas City||Scherzer|
|Oct 6 or 7||Sat or Sun||LDS Game One||Verlander|
Of course, starting pitchers are subject to change at any time.
Update (BONUS BONUS INFO from Rob): Click this link to see a Google spreadsheet with the remaining schedules and projected starters for both the Tigers and White Sox.