DETROIT -- A winner in the American League Central is yet to be determined, so the Rays must wait to find out who their opponent will be in the first round of the AL Division Series. The White Sox, who are now tied for first place in the AL Central with the Twins, defeated the Tigers on Monday, 8-2, to move even with Minnesota for the 162-game season and force a one-game playoff on Tuesday. "Detroit has to play the White Sox; the White Sox win and they have to play Minnesota on Tuesday; interesting," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Having won the AL East, the Rays will host the AL Central winner on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET on TBS.Maddon said the organization has done its due diligence in preparing for both teams, so the only way the Rays have been affected is by delaying their preparation meeting until their opponent is determined. "There's nothing for us," Maddon said. "We're prepared. We've scouted both teams. It would just impact the day that we have the meeting." Meanwhile, there would seem to be a huge advantage favoring the Rays the longer it takes for the AL Central winner to be determined. "From the pitching perspective, it might be a detriment to them," Maddon said. "I don't know how fresh they are. I don't know how many guys they have been utilizing. I haven't followed it that closely. "It will come down, mostly, to their pitching. I think, mostly, their position players -- there's not a whole lot of platooning going on on both teams, I don't think -- but I think it comes down, mostly, to the freshness of their pitching, and then I think it would impact who would start that first game against us." Maddon acknowledged that it's likely the bullpen of the Central champion will be taxed, and the extra games could also impact the starting rotation. "It could push back starters, too, that they may have wanted to keep back for Game 1, which can impact the rest of the series," Maddon said. "I mean, theoretically, you would think that it would benefit us, but I don't really try to analyze that too deeply. Until you see them on the field, you have no idea." The Rays were off on Monday, save for a rally at 5 p.m. ET at Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg. On Tuesday and Wednesday, they will work out at 1 p.m. before hosting Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Tropicana Field. The time for the series opener has yet to be determined.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.