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Cleveland and Detroit face similar paths to AL Central title

The American League Central race has remained tight the entire first half of the season. The Detroit Tigers currently are just 1 ½ games in front of the Cleveland Indians, with the Kansas City Royals a distant six games back.

The path to the AL Central title is very similar for both the Tigers and Indians. Their final 65 plus games has many of the same opponents.

Both the Tigers and Indians will face opponents whose winning percentage is below .500 two-thirds of the time over their last 66 and 67 games of the season respectively.

Cleveland will play 32 of its final 67 games on their home field, while Detroit will play 31 of its final 66 at home. Both teams have 35 of their final games on the road.

Cleveland has fared slightly better this season on their home field than Detroit has. However, on the road, Detroit has the edge with 23-25 record compared to 21-27 for Cleveland.

Detroit and Cleveland will face the division’s weaker opponents, the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox in 21 games.

Over the final 20 plus games of the season, the Tigers will face opponents that currently have a .425 combined winning percentage, while the Indians will be facing teams with a current combined winning percentage of .419.

Cleveland will end its regular season with four home games against the Houston Astros, two against the White Sox and four at Minnesota.

Detroit will end with six straight road games with three at Minnesota and three at the lowly Miami Marlins.

Tougher competition for both teams comes from the Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals. Cleveland must play Kansas City six more games with three at home and three in KC. The Indians will also face the Angels six more times with three in LA and three at home.

The toughest competition for the Tigers will be visits to both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox with both series being three games.

Cleveland will travel out west to face the Oakland Athletics for three games. The Indians generally do not play well in Oakland. The Indians will also face the National League East leading Atlanta Braves in Atlanta.

Head to head Detroit and Cleveland meet seven more times. If one of the two teams can win 5 or more of the remaining 7 games, then it could make a big difference in the divisional race.

Thus far, during the season Detroit is 9-3 against Cleveland. The two end their head-to-head games a complete month prior to the regular season ending. Therefore, if one dominates the head-to-head series, the other will have a full month to catch up.

Even though the two teams’ schedules are vastly similar down the stretch, that will not be the only factor that will determine where the two finish come October.

Another big factor is if one of the two teams can add important players to their roster before the trade deadline arrives on July 31.

Both have had their problems in the bullpen, which could be the key to the success or failure of each down the stretch.

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