The teams' mindsets can be interpreted from their tinkering. While both the A's and Tigers have postseason aspirations, Oakland's appearance for the second straight season after falling in the American League Division Series to Detroit last fall is far less certain.
Oakland sits 2 1/2 games back in the AL West behind the Rangers, while the Tigers are much more comfortable with their 5 1/2-game lead in the AL Central.
The A's starting rotation is in flux, as evidenced by the tentative use of many key cogs. Consider Tommy Milone auditioning for the same job he lost to Sonny Gray earlier this month when he takes the mound Tuesday for the second game of a four-game series at Comerica Park.
The southpaw currently figures to be the odd man out upon the return of Bartolo Colon from the disabled list. The club could potentially opt to try out Milone in the bullpen, or they could simply send him back down again.
"You know what? I really can't afford to think like that," Milone said. "I just have to go out there and take it one game at a time, and hopefully they stick with me. I'm going to try to prepare for each start just like I would normally.
"I feel like this is the type of pitcher I am, minus not being able to go late in the game. The biggest thing as a starting pitcher is to keep your team in the game, and I feel like I was able to do that, and I felt good on top of that, so that was a plus."
Toeing the rubber opposite Milone is Justin Verlander -- a mainstay in Detroit's rotation for years who has uncharacteristically struggled this season. Verlander allowed six runs on 10 hits in seven innings while striking out six against the Twins during his last outing. Otherwise, he's pitched well this month, and he has won his last four starts against Oakland. It's been an up-and-down season for Verlander, one he describes as frustrating.
"It's been quite the grind for me all year, a real battle. All in all, you look at the numbers and it could be a whole lot worse. I wouldn't call it good, I'd call it frustrating. When you're able to go out there and give your team a chance to win, I guess that's a positive you can take away from it."
A's will likely use Anderson in the bullpen
A's lefty Brett Anderson is expected to be activated within the next three days in Detroit, but he won't be returning to the same role when that happens.
Manager Bob Melvin said Monday that Anderson is likely to be used out of the bullpen when lifted off the disabled list, going so far as to say he's not even an option for Thursday's start should Colon not be able to go, which was before considered a possibility.
"I think we're going to have a tough time starting Brett at this point, based on him being out four months, making just two rehab starts, throwing only 3 1/3 his last time out," Melvin said. "Whether we're able to get him in a role where we can stretch him out some, we can potentially do that, but we also feel he has the potential to be a nice option out of the bullpen for us, in whatever role that might be."
If Miggy powers up, Triple Crown will be his again
The path for another Triple Crown for Miguel Cabrera appears to finally be clearing. If he can have another power-hitting September like he did last year, he could well run away with it.
Cabrera's 1-for-4 night with a two-run home run in Monday's series opener against the A's and his 7-for-13, two-homer, five-RBI series against the Mets pushed his average to .359, 29 points ahead of his nearest AL competitor in the batting race, Mike Trout, after Monday. He also moved 12 RBIs up on Chris Davis for the AL lead (130). The only category left is home runs, and Cabrera (43) moved within three of Davis on Monday.
Cabrera is obliterating many of the numbers that won him a Triple Crown last year, and his final month was arguably his strongest power month last season with 11 homers after Sept. 1. That year, though, was outside his norm; his .308 average, .390 on-base percentage, .535 slugging percentage and .925 OPS for his career in September and October are his lowest of any month.
• The A's placed Josh Reddick on the disabled list Monday and have now used the DL four times in the last 33 days after a 77-day streak without placing a player on the DL
• Omar Infante is batting .370 with seven runs scored and five RBIs in 13 games since returning from the disabled list.
• Tigers starting pitchers have recorded a quality start in 30 of the last 40 games dating back to July 12 against Texas, posting a 22-8 record and a 2.73 ERA during the stretch.
Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.