DETROIT – Monday will be the most meaningful game the Detroit Tigers play the rest of the season as they battle the Baltimore Orioles for the worst record in baseball.
It's the seventh and final meeting between the two teams this season, with the Tigers taking two of three in Baltimore and the Orioles winning two of the first three games in Detroit.
The Tigers are eight wins behind the Miami Marlins, who own the third-worst record in MLB. There's no way they're winning eight of their final 14 games, so the Tigers will either have the No. 1 or No. 2 overall pick in next year's draft.
A loss in Monday's series finale would basically lock up the No. 1 pick for the Tigers.
Detroit would fall six wins behind the Orioles with 13 games remaining. That means even if Baltimore went 0-12 down the stretch, the Tigers would have to go 6-7 to finish with the same record. Even that wouldn't be enough to finish ahead of the Orioles, though, because Baltimore would own the head-to-head series, 4-3.
So if the Tigers lose Monday, they would have to go 7-6 on a stretch run that includes three games with the Cleveland Indians and three games with the Minnesota Twins to even have a chance to finish 29th in baseball.
Detroit has won seven of its last 28 games, so winning seven of 13 would be a shock. Also, that would only be good enough to pass Baltimore if the Orioles went 0-12, which isn't likely.
Baltimore has six games remaining against the Toronto Blue Jays and three games against the Seattle Mariners. Those two teams are a combined 121-179 and are the fifth- and sixth-worst teams in baseball.
The point is if the Tigers lose Monday, they'll have the No. 1 draft pick.
A win Monday would make the situation a little less certain. The Tigers would only be four wins behind the Orioles.
It's still unlikely the Tigers would catch Baltimore, but they do have seven games left against a pretty bad Chicago White Sox team. If they managed to win three or four of those games and take one apiece from the Indians and Twins, suddenly the Orioles only have to go 2-10 to end up tied with the Tigers.
If the Tigers win the season series Monday, a tie would award Baltimore with the No. 1 pick. The Orioles probable won't go 2-10 down the stretch, but it's not impossible, considering how bad they've been.
The Tigers are definitely the worst team and will likely get the No. 1 pick either way, but for fans desperate to watch one last meaningful game by the end of the year, Monday is it.
MLB's scheduling department is trying to protect everyone from having to watch this game by starting it at 4:10 p.m. and broadcasting it on ESPN+, but with such high stakes, they won't be able to keep Tigers fans away.