Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
It's hard to pinpoint which team is really the biggest threat to the Tigers at this point in time, especially given the recent revelation that Tigers-killers Justin Morneau and Joe Crede will be on the shelf for the rest of the season. That being said, it's hard to see the Twins not being the biggest threat to the Tigers. Despite the loss at the plate, the Twins still have some strong starters (including Carl Pavano, who is being moved around in the rotation to ensure he faces the Tigers twice in the team's seven games in the final weeks of the season), a reliable bullpen, and a lineup that still features arguably the best hitter in the American League in Joe Mauer. Couple that with the fact that the Tigers never have played well at the Metrodome, and there's an opportunity there for the Twins to make a big move with seven games against the Tigers.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
The Twins and White Sox have both had their chances to catch the Tigers, and I think those chances have disappeared. The White Sox -- save for some miraculous comeback by both Jake Peavy and Alex Rios -- are all but conceeding this season and looking towards 2010. The Twins, while still carrying an outward projection of wanting to win the Division this year, simply don't appear to have the pieces, particularly now that both Justin Morneau and Joe Crede -- both noted Tiger killers -- will be on the shelf for the remainder of the season. For the Detroit Tigers to miss winning the Division title in 2009, it would take a collapse of epic proportions at this juncture, and I just don't see that happening. This isn't the strongest Tiger team in the world, but they have enough pitching, enough defense, and enough timely offense to win enough games down the stretch to get to the playoffs; when anything can and does happen.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
With three weeks to go, I'm going to say the Twins pose the biggest threat. The Tigers still have seven games remaining with them, and they have never fared well inside the Metrodome, where they start their critical nine-game road trip this weekend. It is paramount for the Tigers to salvage at least one game in the series, and not allow the Twins to pick up three games in the standings in three days. The White Sox are certainly capable of making a run, and while they have six games remaining with the Tigers, they find themselves six games down (through Sunday's play) and have just 18 games left, so they do not have much margin for error provided the Tigers don't play the last three weeks in the same manner as last week. The Twins are in the same boat in that they must finish strong, but the schedule helps them in that they get first crack against the Tigers (White Sox have to wait another week), and there is always the possibility they could gain ground before the Tigers leave on their road trip.
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