162 games just wasn’t enough to decide the winner of the AL Central, so on Tuesday night, the Twins and Tigers will engage in a one game playoff to determine who gets to keep playing. Minnesota tries to finish off a tremendous comeback, while Detroit tries to avoid a pretty staggering collapse.
The game itself will be tremendous drama to watch, but the existence of the game itself is bad news for both teams. Regardless of which team wins, they’re going to be at a significant disadvantage in the AL division series.
The Tigers used Justin Verlander on Sunday in order to force the 163rd game. In an effort to win that game and qualify for the playoffs, they’ll send Rick Porcello to the hill tomorrow. And then, if they win, they’ll have to turn around and play the Yankees on Wednesdady. Neither Verlander nor Porcello would be eligible to make that start, obviously, so instead, Edwin Jackson would be the game one starter for Detroit. Given his second half struggles, that’s certainly not an ideal situation for the Tigers.
The Twins face an even more serious problem. They’ll try to beat the Tigers with Scott Baker tomorrow, which would make him available for just one game in a first round match-up against New York, as they’d have to hand their two start spots to Nick Blackburn and Carl Pavano. Both are decent pitchers, but they’re clearly inferior to Baker. And with Minnesota only able to throw their best starter once in a five game series, their odds of being able to take down the Yankees takes a real hit.
As a fan without a rooting interest in the outcome of the AL Central, the one game playoff should provide some pretty enjoyable baseball to watch. But the price of the game is going to inflict a significant toll on the winner.