Justin Verlander will get another shot at the AL central on Saturday. I was able to watch Verlander's first career start just a few weeks ago on the American Forces Network. There were far more positives to take from his debut than negatives. He took the loss but most of Cleveland's hits were just out of the reach of the infielders or fell just in front of the outfielders. After the first inning, Verlander settled down despite having a tough time with his curve ball. I think Saturday will be his coming out party.
The series against the Twins is arguably the most important series of the season. This is not your typical three or four game series. The Twins are in town for a monster five game slugfest. The Tigers are still relatively close (five games behind Minnesota) to the wild card spot but with seven teams in front of them, they need to make their move now. This series will shed some light on multiple issues.
1). The Tigers will know in five days whether or not they have a realistic shot at the wild card. A 5-0 or 4-1 count in favor of Detroit will put the Tigers right in the middle of the race. A 5-0 or a 4-1 series win for the Twins will pretty much take the Tigers out of the race 2). A good series will likely force Dave Dombrowski to jump into the buyer's market at the trade deadline. 3). A bad series will likely allow Dombrowski to explore trade possibilities for Jason Johnson and/or Mike Maroth. 4). If Verlander can duplicate his Orel Hershiser circa 1988 performances from Double AA Erie (21 innings, 0 er!!!!) then Dombrowski will have even more reason to send either Johnson or Maroth packing. 5). Verlander will be going back to Double AA regardless of the outcome but a poor performance might make this the last time you see him in a Tiger uniform until next season.