1. Should the Tigers try starting Justin Verlander on short rest to line him up for starting on the last day of the season instead of the tiebreaker?
Eric Karabell (@karabellespn), ESPN.com senior writer: Absolutely not! Justin Verlander has never started a major league game on three days' rest -- although he actually started in last year's playoffs on two days' rest, but went one inning in Game 1, thanks to rain -- and now isn't the time to try it. What's wrong with Max Scherzer going on Wednesday? He has better numbers than Verlander since the All-Star break anyway. Plus, we all want Verlander versus Chris Sale on Thursday!
Stephanie Liscio (@stephanieliscio), It's Pronounced 'Lajaway': If the Tigers could find a way to pitch Justin Verlander in every inning of every game (or find an effective way to clone him), I'd probably just go ahead and declare them world champions. Even though his arm may fall off if they actually tried this, I do think he's durable enough to pitch on short rest if necessary. If it really comes down to it (meaning either the Tigers or White Sox haven't pulled ahead by that point), I'd have Verlander start on the last day of the season if it was a must-win game. While you don't want to ignore a potential tiebreaker, you need to actually reach that point for it to even matter. If the Tigers save Verlander, yet end up getting knocked out of the playoffs on the last day, you've saved him for nothing.
Jason Wojciechowski (@jlwoj), Beaneball.org: The choice comes down to Max Scherzer on full rest or Justin Verlander on short. Verlander may or may not be superhuman, but given that pitchers typically do lose something on short rest, I'd rather have Scherzer. The gap between the two is smaller than you might think if you just look at ERA: Verlander's 2.94 FIP is sparkling, but Scherzer's 3.23 mark is nearly as great.
2. What's up with the White Sox swoon? What's the one quick fix they should try to make?
Karabell: The Sox have scored more than three runs in only one of their past eight games, but recent signs are good. Adam Dunn finally got going with a two-homer game Monday, and Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo, all struggling in September, homered Tuesday. Frankly, moving Gordon Beckham up to second in the lineup couldn't hurt, with Kevin Youkilis hitting .197 this month. It's doubtful a four-game series with Tampa Bay this week will get him going.
Liscio: In the games the White Sox have lost during their recent skid, it has been a pretty simple formula. They scored three or fewer runs and typically allowed four or more runs, with the starting pitchers as the main culprits. Jake Peavy has come back to Earth in the past month or two. When a lineup is slumping, there may not be a simple quick fix to improve the situation. The fact that they're giving both Peavy and Chris Sale an extra day of rest is probably the best they can do. Since they play the Indians four more times before the end of the season, they could also make sure they find a way to throw just left-handed pitching against them. Almost all left-handed pitchers look like the reincarnation of Sandy Koufax against the Indians.
Wojciechowski: Chicago's six losses in seven games can be safely pinned on the offense, though bumping up against the juggernaut Angels starting rotation (especially now that Ervin Santana appears to be back on track) is never easy. Unfortunately for the Sox, four games against the Rays, who lead all of baseball in ERA, won't be any easier.
3. Who wins, Sox or Tigers, and why?
Karabell: These teams finish next Wednesday tied with 87-75 records, and Verlander-Sale is everything we expect for seven scoreless innings on Thursday. Miguel Cabrera homers to break the tie in the eighth, breaking his own tie with Josh Hamilton in home runs, giving him the Triple Crown! With Jose Valverde warming in the ninth, Jim Leyland sticks with his ace and Verlander fans Dunn on pitch No. 130 to end the 1-0 victory.
Liscio: My opinion on who wins changes almost daily, because both of these teams have looked incredibly mediocre for much of the season. Two weeks ago, I probably would have picked the White Sox, but with their recent struggles and the fact that they have to play a very hot Tampa Bay team this weekend, my vote is now going with the Tigers. They appear to be heating up at the right time, and they have a much more favorable schedule over the final week of the season -- two teams with sub-.500 records, the Royals and Twins. This could all be thrown out the window if the Twins, Royals, or Indians decide to play spoiler. The Indians have spent most of the season frustrating/angering their own fans; it seems fitting that they have the opportunity to branch out and infuriate another team's fans before they go home for the winter.
Wojciechowski: The Tigers, mainly because of the remaining schedule. It's an eight-game horse race and, as mentioned above, four of those games for Chicago are against a good Rays team still in the hunt for the playoffs. Detroit only has to deal with Kansas City and Minnesota. There are decent odds that the Tigers will have already clinched by the time Oct. 3 rolls around.