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AL Central Race Could Pay Big Dividends For East And West

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While the Yankees are lining up their post-season rotation, the A's wait to see if their 5.5 game lead first shrinks to 3.5 (yes, then you can officially get nervous) or expands to 7.5 (yes, then you can officially thank the Woofing Gods for their time and move on). The AL Central is a different matter entirely. Suddenly, after last night's games, the Tigers find themselves with two teams within 4.5 games, while the Wild Card continues to be separated by all of 0.5 game.

How would you feel about the possibility of playing the Twins in the ALDS? A little nervous about "the Johan Santana factor"? OK, how would you feel if Santana had to pitch in the last weekend of the season (or in a one-game playoff on Monday) to get the Twins there, and could only make one start in the ALDS? Better? I thought so.

What scares you the most about matching up with the Tigers in the ALDS? A little nervous about "the A's-killer Kenny Rogers" factor? OK, how would you feel if Rogers had to pitch in the last weekend of the season to get the Tigers there, and could only make one start in the ALDS? Better? I thought so.

The reality is this: The Tigers may win a playoff berth and still have time to set up their rotation as they wish for the ALDS. The Twins and White Sox are very unlikely to have that luxury. The White Sox, of all three teams, probably come out the best in a "do what we have to do to get there, throw whatever starters are available" scenario, as they have no true ace and a pretty good #4--not as much separation from front to back.

My point today: Don't rule out the possibility that Carlos Silva could make two starts in the ALDS. AL Central teams, you are going down to the wire in not one but two races. And the teams on the coasts thank you.

{PROGRAMMING NOTE: As far as I can tell, today's 4:15pm PDT game has been added by FSN as a TV game.}