Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
As I've said all along this season, I'm following my gut this year. My gut told me this team would be better than everyone expected, and I got that one right, so I have no reason to doubt it now. Maybe it's Minnesota's recent hot streak, or maybe it's the Tigers continued shakiness with the team seemingly never able to put together a complete game, or maybe it's just examining the remaining schedules and seeing the cupcakes that Minnesota has lined up for it, but I just have a bad feeling that the Tigers won't be able to hold serve over the final 31 games and will see their lead that has remained steady for virtually the past four months finally disappear down the stretch. The Twins still have six games left against the Indians, six games left against the Royals, three games against Oakland, and seven games against our very own Tigers, where the Twins currently hold a 7-4 advantage in the season series. It's going to be a fun final month, but I think ultimately the Tigers come up just short.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
Simply put, The Tigers will win the Central Division. They have not had a spectacular run in 2009, but just a series of quality months, and quality baseball. Though they don't have that one dominating component to carry them through September, they have talent in every part of the roster. Miguel Cabrera has been on fire over the last month -- placing himself squarely in the middle of the MVP debate with Joe Mauer. Justin Verlander continues to be the ace and stopper of this rotation. Rick Porcello has remained strong while blowing past his innings total from 2008. Though Edwin Jackson hasn't been the dominating force he was in the first half, he has still been a good starter. Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen, and Placido Polanco are all swinging better bats. Alex Avila is garnering more playing time, which can only help the offense. And lastly, the bullpen is actually doing their job reguarly. This is a team with enough parts to comprise a whole that can get the job done. If the Tigers get anything at all -- and I mean one or two big hits, or one or two big starts from Jarrod Washburn and Aubrey Huff, they are going to win this division. Winning the division means you head to the playoffs, and we all know anything can happen once you get in the playoffs. I see a second playoff appearance in four years for this franchise!
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
With a month left, I think the Tigers will hang on and win the division. Both Minnesota and Chicago would have to get hot to catch the Tigers, and there has been no indication that either team is ready to break out. One thing that is interesting is that the Tigers and Twins play just about the same schedule down the stretch with the exception of the Tigers' three games at Tampa Bay, and the Twins' three home games against Oakland. Both also play Toronto in four-game series with the Tigers hosting and the Twins being on the road. Certainly, the biggest hurdle for the Tigers will be their nine-game road trip against Minnesota, Cleveland and Chicago, and if they come home still with the lead, I think they'll be in great shape. Obviously, the Tigers have a long ways to go before any postseason plans can be made, but the Tigers have always managed to keep their grip on first place. Just when it seemed the White Sox would pass the Tigers after Mark Buehrle's perfect game put them in a tie for first place in late July, the Tigers responded by winning three out of four games that weekend. It certainly hasn't been pretty, but outside of a total collapse by the Tigers, I expect them to be in the playoffs.
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