With the Tigers down 2-0 to the Rangers in the ALCS some managers would be tempted to bring back Justin Verlander for Game 4 on short rest, but Jim Leyland reiterated yesterday that he doesn’t consider that an option.
Or in his exact words: “He’s pitching Game 5.That’s a slam dunk. That is the end of the conversation.”
Verlander threw just four innings and 82 pitches Saturday in Game 1 and has a well-earned reputation as an incredibly durable workhorse, but Leyland will stick with Doug Fister in Game 3 and Rick Porcello in Game 4. Porcello actually threw two innings and 22 pitches in relief of Verlander in Game 1.
Here’s more from Leyland:
What people don’t realize is, you’ve got to win four games. Nobody might believe this–the public, the TV people might not want to and everybody else–but let me tell you something: At this point, from what I’ve seen, pitching Justin Verlander on the fifth day is two-fold. It’s the best thing for Justin Verlander, and it’s the best thing for the team. Trust me when I tell you that.
This decision is different than most short-rest debates because in this case moving up Verlander to Game 4 could also potentially make him available for Game 7. So it’s not simply a decision about pitching him on three days’ rest or four days’ rest, it’s a decision about starting the Tigers’ ace two times or three times in the seven-game series.
It’s obviously a moot point, because Leyland isn’t comfortable with Verlander going on short rest. And also because thoughts of a Game 7–or even a Game 5–would require the Tigers to start winning.