On Friday, the Texas Rangers will open up a three-game series against a potential playoff foe, the Detroit Tigers.
Despite being 6-4 in their last 10 games, the Rangers at least appear to have been in a funk lately, though taking two out of three in Boston might just have snapped the funk for the Rangers.
Regardless, the Tigers are a good team. As good as the Rangers? No, but they could very well be a very, very dangerous playoff team because of one Justin Verlander, and an offense anchored by Prince Fielder and MVP runner up candidate Miguel Cabrera.
Texas will face off against Max Scherzer, Verlander and Rick Porcello in the series, and will send Scott Feldman, Derek Holland and Yu Darvish to counter them.
It won't be the end of the world if the Rangers drop the series, and it won't mean the Rangers are winning the pennant if they do win the series. It will, however, tell us how the Rangers look right now against a potential playoff team.
I'll be specifically watching Holland and Darvish, as they're likely going to be in Texas' playoff rotation. Both Darvish and Holland have struggled mightily since the All-Star Break. The Rangers will need both pitchers to be right by the time the playoffs start, otherwise capturing a third pennant in as many years is going to be an extremely difficult task.
Here's hoping Texas' entire offense shows up, as well as the good versions of Holland and Darvish. The Rangers will need them.