Will the Tigers Make the Playoffs? This Detailed Schedule Analysis Shows How It Can Be Done


At 27-32 on June 10, six games behind the Chicago White Sox and four and a half games behind the Cleveland Indians, Tiger fans need to find a reason to believe a Central Division title is still a very realistic possibility.  I set out to prove that the Tigers could reach a certain numbers of wins that could deliver them to the playoffs.  After an exhaustive look through the schedule, I can say with confidence that I have newfound hope for their chances this season.

First of all, some (though certainly not all) of the struggles this season have come as a result of injury.  Soon, Andy Dirks and Doug Fister will return, joining Austin Jackson back on the active roster.  Alex Avila will follow in a couple weeks. Later in July, Al Alburquerque may be seen warming up in the pen, and, in September, Victor Martinez may be back in the line-up.  Getting healthy will certainly help, as will potential additions on the trade market.  You better believe, with prospects like Turner, Oliver, and Crosby to deal, and a win now mentality, Dave Dombrowski will not hesitate to acquire an impact player.

So, if improved play can be expected, then just how many wins can this team get to?  How many do they need to get to?  I believe the ceiling for wins for both the White Sox and the Indians is 87.  I would be very surprised if either team went above that.  I have no statistical rationale for such a claim, just call it a gut feeling.  So can the Tigers get to 87 wins?  That would mean, starting Sunday night versus Cincinnati, they must go 60-43.  I know, from what we’ve seen, that seems impossible, but here is how it can be done:

First, lets look at how the Tigers may fare against some of the best teams – Rangers, Angels, Yankees, Rays, Red Sox.

-The Tigers have six more games remaining against the Rangers, all six in Texas.  I would say 2-4 is the expectation there.

-Ten more games remain against the Angels, seven of which are at home.  Given the favorable home/away split, I see 6-4 here.  Total: 8-8

-A four game set in Tampa is all that remains against the Rays.  The Tigers typically play Tampa well, so I see a 2-2 split here.  Total: 10-10

-Three more games at Fenway against the Red Sox, 1-2 I’d say.  Total: 11-12

-A four game set at home against the Yankees.  I would expect a split.  Total: 13-14

Next, how will they fair against mid-level competition like the Blue Jays, Orioles, White Sox, and Indians?

-The Tigers have 6 games against the Blue Jays with an even home/away split.  They play all these games after the all-star break when I expect the Tigers to be much improved.  I say 4-2 here.  Total: 17-16

-The Tigers also have six games against the Orioles.  I doubt we can go 4-2 against both the Orioles and the Blue Jays, so I will go 3-3.  Total: 20-19

-Ten games remain against the White Sox, six at home and four away.  I will say the record will reflect the home/away split, 6-4.  Total: 26-23

-The Tigers and Indians will play twelve more times with an even home/away split.  The Indians have had the Tigers number over the first couple series, but I expect things will even out a bit, 7-5 for the Tigers.  Total: 33-28

Now for the bottom feeders of the American League: Royals, Twins, and Athletics.

-Thirteen games against the Royals, the Tigers have played the Royals well and will go 8-5.  Total: 41-33

-The Tigers and Twins also play thirteen more times.  The Twins are likely to trade quite a lot and be only a shell of the meek team they are now.  8-5 I’d say.  Total: 49-38

-Athletics and Tigers play one more series in Detroit late in September, and here is where I make one not so conservative call – the Tigers sweep 3-0.  Total: 52-38

Now for Interleague play: Pirates, Cardinals, Cubs, Rockies, Reds.

– Thirteen Interleague games remain.  I like the Tigers to do well in interleague play, taking 2 of 3 from the Cubs, Rockies, Cardinals, and Pirates. I expect them to lose tonight’s game against the Reds. 8-5 in interleague play.  Total: 60-43

So, without having fanciful expectations, I have shown how the Tigers can win 60 more games and at least get themselves a share of the Central Division.  If the White Sox or Indians happen to go higher than 87, the extra Wild-Card spot is still a possibility.  In the twelve American League seasons since 2000, there were six years that a team with less than 90 wins would have gotten a 5th playoff spot.

So quit living and dying with each game’s result.  Just keep the big picture in mind – 60 more wins and we have a good shot at playing playoff baseball.