If there are two things I’ve written about with consistency at this weblog they are 1) the Detroit Tigers and 2) the Atlanta Braves’ foolhardy abandonment of their downtown home at Turner Field. Beginning tonight, and for the next two days thereafter, these two ALDLANDic worlds will collide when the Tigers face the Braves in the final three games ever to be played at the aforementioned Turner Field. More than anything, I am grateful that we will be able to attend each of these games, live and in person. These are critical games for the 2016 Tigers, teetering as they are on the edge of postseason qualification, and they are historic games for the City of Atlanta. I have little more to add at this juncture other than that I am very excited.
Nevertheless, some notes:
That line’s going the wrong way, but they’re still alive at the end, which is what matters now.
- Speaking of the end, these three games in Atlanta were supposed to be the final three games of the season for both teams. Instead, substantial rainfall— six inches in twenty-four hours– forced the cancellation yesterday of what was supposed to be the Tigers’ last 2016 regular season home game. Instead, a makeup game will take place Monday (1:10 pm) if its outcome would have any effect on either Detroit’s playoff chances or the postseason seeding of their opponent, Cleveland. Given how close the top AL teams are to each other, it is difficult to imagine that makeup game being unnecessary.
- Yesterday’s rain-soaked scheduling curveball has set up the Tigers for, potentially, “by far the craziest postseason schedule ever.” How crazy?
The Tigers would play Sunday in Atlanta then travel to Detroit to play the makeup game against the Indians on Monday. They’d next go to Baltimore to face the Orioles on Tuesday, and if they win that, back to Detroit to face the Mariners on Wednesday. If they win that game, they’d head to Toronto to face the Blue Jays in the official Wild Card game, and if they win that, head immediately to Texas or Boston to start the delayed ALDS on Friday.
- Before the season even started, observers noticed that Detroit’s schedule was set to end with these three games in Atlanta and asked “Could the Braves Give the Tigers a Playoff Spot?” As recently as the beginning of this month, the opening argument of the case for Detroit making the playoffs was the relatively weak opponents they’d be facing down the stretch. Instead of thrashing their supposedly soft foes, however, they’ve gone a tepid 13-12 in September. The Braves, meanwhile, finally are turning it on. They’re 16-9 this month, by far the best of their season. Over the next few days, the Tigers may earn a playoff spot, but the Braves clearly have no intention of simply giving them one.
- Detroit outfielders Justin Upton and Cameron Maybin, pictured above, and Erick Aybar will be making their first (I’m assuming; no idea what they do in their free time) visits to Turner Field today since they were wearing Braves uniforms. Here’s hoping their familiarity with– for Upton and Maybin– the outfield here inures to the Tigers’ benefit this weekend.
- The rainout yesterday juggled the Detroit pitching rotation somewhat, meaning that Jordan Zimmermann now is set to start for the visitors tonight. After a red-hot April, Zimmermann missed substantial time due to a neck injury. His attempted return to major-league action three weeks ago went extremely poorly. After more rehab, he pitched three innings of relief on Sunday and looked better, but I still think Brad Ausmus’ decision to start Zimmermann tonight is much riskier than most are acknowledging. The good news is that, after two rain-shortened days, the bullpen, such as it is, should be fully stocked and ready to go. This also sets up a premier pitching matchup for Sunday afternoon: Justin Verlander vs. Julio Teheran. Should be hot.
- Yet another consequence of the Thursday rainout: it could allow rookie sensation Michael Fulmer to qualify for the ERA title. Unless Ausmus uses him in an emergency relief capacity this weekend, Fulmer would be available to start on Monday. Fulmer is about three innings short of the innings-pitched threshold needed to qualify for the award, and if he qualified, it’s likely he would win.
- Swansongs, Vol. 3? I’ve been enjoying the early days of the Dansby Swanson era here, and while he was out of the lineup when we went to see the Braves on Vanderbilt Alumni Night, I expect we’ll see plenty of him this weekend.
Whatever happens, these games are going to be a ton of fun, and I can’t wait to watch Tigers baseball in sunny Atlanta. In addition to updates here and on our twitter feed, keep an ear open for a special episode of the Banished to the Pen Podcast, which we hope to record and post before Sunday’s games.
Cabrera leads by example – 9/21
It Don’t Come Easy – 9/8
Mike Drop – 8/16
Checking in on Justin Upton – 8/11
The Tigers are not Utilitarians – 7/27
Is Brad Ausmus Evolving? – 7/26
Tigers offered another opportunity tonight against Pomeranz – 7/25
Brad Ausmus is not saying, he’s just saying – 7/8
Ian Kinsler is the San Francisco Giants of the MLB All Star Game – 7/6
Night of a thousand feet of home runs – 6/21
Pelf on the shelf – 6/16
When is it okay to stop short? – 6/15
Heading for the exit velocity – 5/17
Boy, the starters need to carry that weight a longer time – 5/3
Who’s Number Two? – 5/2
Braves finally strike a positive note in move to new stadium
The political costs of a new baseball stadium
Previewing the 2016 Atlanta Braves
The Braves are failing on their own terms
New Braves stadium project continues to falter
Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Cobb’s Braves Stadium Bond Deal
Braves Break Ground on Baseball Boondoggle
The yard sale at Upton Abbey continues
From Barves to Burbs: What’s happening to baseball in Atlanta?
Swansongs, Vol. 2
Swansongs, Vol. 1
The Dansby Swanson Era has arrived in Atlanta
Statements both obvious and only slightly less obvious about the Detroit Tigers’ finances
Shift the shift: Victor Martinez and counter-strategies
Feel like they never tell you the story of the Gose?
Getting to know Jordan Zimmermann in context
Highlights from MLB Network’s visit to Detroit Tigers spring training
2016 Detroit Tigers Season Preview: They’re Not Dead Yet