Tigers-Cardinals games unlikely to be made up; Detroit will be on winning-percentage watch
Detroit — It sounds crazy to say, but, yes, Major League Baseball is making this up as it goes along.
And everyone knows it, and amazingly, accepts it, too.
"We've gotta be flexible," Tigers starter Matthew Boyd said.
Baseball put in new rules before the start of the shortened season, like a designated hitter in the National League, and has since tweaked things since the start of the season — most notably, the seven-inning doubleheaders, and the rule that winning percentage will determine who makes the playoffs.
The last point is important, given there's practically no way MLB is going to be make up all the games that already have been postponed, a total that already is in the dozens and climbing.
The Tigers-St. Louis Cardinals four-game series was postponed when the Cardinals received positive COVID-19 tests for seven players and six staffers. That's the second major outbreak in MLB since the season started less than two weeks ago. The Miami Marlins also have had a major outbreak.
Chances of the Tigers and Cardinals making up part or even any of that series are next to none, meaning it's almost certain Detroit will play fewer than the 60 games it originally scheduled. If they make a push for the expanded 16-team playoff, and the Tigers believe they can, it'll be a winning-percentage watch party, not looking at how many games back they are.
"I don't like it," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said Tuesday morning, after a team workout at Comerica Park. "You try to play the games, but it might be impossible. You're talking days off being taken away down the road, doubleheaders all over the place. I think the commissioner's office is trying to do everything possible to get these ballgames in and get everybody on the same, level playing field.
"We'll just let it play out and see what happens.
"Hopefully we're in a situation where we're close and that is an option, and that would be fun."
The Tigers and Cardinals only share two off days the rest of the season, Sept. 3 and 10. Those are the only two mutual off days for the Cardinals and Brewers, who had their series wiped out in Milwaukee over the weekend. Given St. Louis and Milwaukee are division foes, those games would take priority.
Now, the Brewers and Cardinals could schedule three doubleheaders for their final two series against each other, and then the Cardinals-Tigers could be made up Sept. 3 and 10 (Sept. 3 perhaps in St. Louis, Sept. 10 perhaps in Detroit), but that would leave the Cardinals playing 55 games over their last 52 days, with just two days off. And that's assuming they have no more postponements, which is a stretch.
There's also a good chance the Cardinals, still quarantined in Milwaukee, could have additional postponed games this weekend, when they're supposed to play the Chicago Cubs. Cubs pitcher Jon Lester said recently he doesn't expect Friday's game to happen.
As for tacking the games on to the end of the regular season, that would seem to be a non-starter for MLB, which has taken a hard-line stance that the postseason shouldn't be delayed. MLB is worried about a new wave of COVID-19 (not that the first one has ended), and playoffs bring in massive TV dollars.
The Tigers, at 5-5, are set to return to action Friday, starting a three-game series in Pittsburgh.
"We're doing our best to make the most of it," Boyd said. "We're day by day."