Top-3 draft pick in play for Tigers entering final weekend of season

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Hey, the Tigers have something to play for in the final weekend of the season. Well, something to lose for.

Yes, we're back to talking about next year's draft as another season comes to a close.

But it feels different this time. After hanging around the playoff race for a good chunk of the summer, the Tigers don't seem so far from contention anymore. The 2021 draft could be the last time for a long time they're sitting near the top of the board.

Let's hope.

Where exactly will the Tigers pick in 2021? Assuming the order is based off this year's standings, as previously reported, Detroit's final three games of the season -- with the possibility for two more on Monday -- will go a long way toward providing an answer.

The Tigers (22-33) would have the No. 5 pick if the season ended today. That's two spots better than where they were at the start of this week. With three losses in their last three days, they've 'jumped' the Royals and the Nationals on the draft board.

And there's a chance they could climb as high as No. 3. While Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker will likely be gone by then, it would put the Tigers in position to draft one of the top two position players available: Florida State OF Jud Fabian or high school SS Jordan Lawlor.

Picking fourth right now would be Arizona (22-34). Picking third would be Boston Sox (22-35). If the Tigers lose out this weekend against the Royals, and the D-backs and Red Sox each win at least once, Detroit will pick third. If the Tigers lose two of three, and the D-backs and Red Sox each win at least twice, Detroit will pick third.

You get the picture.

Of course, it could just as soon go the other way. If the Tigers win their final three games, they could wind up picking as low as No. 10. So yeah, from a long-term perspective, this otherwise meaningless series between Detroit and Kansas City is pretty darn important.

For those wondering, the Tigers have Spencer Turnbull on the mound Friday, Matthew Boyd on Saturday and rookie Tarik Skubal on Sunday.

The real wrinkle could come Monday. The Tigers will be called back to Comerica Park to make up one or two games against the Cardinals if there are NL playoff spots at stake. Which there very well could be. The Cardinals are in a tight race with the Reds and Brewers for the second playoff spot in the NL Central, plus potentially the Marlins, Phillies and Giants for one of the two wild cards.

So hang tight. If you're draft-inclined, root for the Royals to beat the Tigers, the Red Sox to beat the Orioles and the D-backs to beat the Rockies, and for chaos to rule the day in the National League. In theory, the Tigers could lose five more games.

There's still much to be decided in this strange 2020 season.