The Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals have clinched the American and National League Central divisions on the final day of the 2014 season.
The Tigers wrapped up their division behind a fantastic start from David Price. Price, who was acquired from the Rays in a three-team trade on July 31, hasn't been great in a Tigers uniform, coming into today's game 3-4 with a 3.97 ERA in 10 starts. However, his gem today -- 7 1/3 innings, no hits, no runs, eight strikeouts, and two walks -- proved his worth as the Tigers wrapped up a 3-0 victory over the Twins.
I predicted the Tigers to win the American League prior to the season, and now that they don't have to play in the one-game AL Wild Card round, their pitching staff could talk them all the way to the World Series. Their starting rotation includes Max Scherzer (18-5, 3.15 ERA), Justin Verlander (15-12, 4.54), Rick Porcello (15-13, 3.43), Anibal Sanchez (8-5, 3.43), and now Price.
As for the Cardinals, they wrapped up their division with a little help. The Pittsburgh Pirates were bested by the Cincinnati Reds 4-1. This is their 11th playoff appearance since 2000 and their eighth division title in that stretch. The Cardinals have reached the NLCS or beyond each of the lat three years.
Prior to this season, I thought they would reach a fourth, but fall to the Washington Nationals in the series. Pitching is a common theme for postseason teams and the Cardinals are right there atop the best staffs in baseball. Behind Adam Wainwright (20-9, 2.38), Michael Wacha (5-6, 3.20), Lance Lynn (15-10, 2.74), Shelby Miller (10-9, 3.74), Justin Masterson (6-9, 5.97), and John Lackey (14-10, 3.82) the Cardinals have an arsenal of quality starting pitchers that isn't matched by any other team. And behind a lineup featuring Yadier Molina, the Cardinals could make a lot of noise in October.
Congratulations to the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals on clinching the American and National League Central divisions.