After clinching the American League Central, the Tigers can now look towards the playoffs. They are currently one game back of the Oakland Athletics. Oakland will finish the season against Seattle while the Tigers will travel to Miami for the final three games. The Tigers need to gain two games if they want home field advantage. Oakland current holds the tiebreaker as they beat the Tigers 4-3 in the season series.
The other big story in this final series is Jhonny Peralta. He is returning from his 50 game suspension due to his link with the Biogenesis clinic. However, his place is no longer at short stop. His position has long been lost to Jose Iglesias. Iglesias has hit .276 with the Tigers through 43 games and has made outstanding plays in the field.
The Tigers have been trying Peralta in left field in the instructional league recently. Left field seems to be his only option if he has any shot to make the playoff roster. He would be a hitting improvement over Dirks or Tuiasosopo but is largely unproven at the new position.
Matt Tuiasosopo has really struggled in the past month. He doesn’t have a hit in the month of September. His average is down to .250. If Peralta is to make the playoff roster, it would make the most sense if he replaced Tuiasosopo. He would be a question mark defensively but it would be hard for him to be worse than Delmon Young used to be.
Jim Leyland will have some tough decisions when deciding his playoff rotation. There is no question that Max Scherzer has been the best pitcher on the staff this year. The problem is the Tigers still have Justin Verlander, a pitcher who has been one of the best in the league over the last few years.
Based on the season, Verlander should be the third starter. Not only has Scherzer out pitched him, Anibal Sanchez has as well. It would be surprising if Leyland has Verlander in the third spot. It is still very likely that Verlander will get the ball game one.
Regardless of the rotation order, the Tigers have the pitching to make a long run in the playoffs. This is a team that should be disappointed if they don’t make it to the World Series. However, it may be a bigger disappointment if they lose in the World Series.