"If the Indians just play .500 ball the rest of the way, they’ll finish with an 85-77 record. To win the division by just a single game, the Tigers would have to finish 66-52, a .559 pace over the rest of the season. Can they do it? Sure – most people thought the Tigers were a 90+ win team headed into the season, so it’s not an unreasonable projection. But it’s also quite possible that the Indians play better than .500 ball over the rest of the schedule, forcing the Tigers to need to play .575+ baseball in order to close the gap before the end of September.
Even if we didn’t adjust our expectations for this Tigers team down at all due to their slow start, asking them to play at a 93 win pace is no small task, and realistically, some of the struggles the team has had reveal flaws that suggest that Detroit isn’t as good as they were thought to be before the season began. Without Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta hitting at All-Star levels, this offense just isn’t the juggernaut that it was expected to be, and the pitching is getting betrayed by lousy defensive support.
The Tigers can still win the AL Central, but the early advantage that the Indians have built suggests that they should no longer be expected to come out on top. Cleveland is now the team to beat in that division."