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.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network said yesterday that the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs have been engaged in trade talks involving starting pitcher Justin Verlander and catcher Alex Avila. Morosi also noted that the Los Angeles Dodgers have shown interest in Verlander as well. Whether this is idyl chitchatting of serious dispute is unclear, of course. Everything is unclear in the leadup to the deadline.
The veteran right-hander is carrying a 4.50 with a 120/57 K/BB ratio over 124 innings. Verlander impressed last year, finishing second in AL Cy Young Award balloting, but he has fallen back to Earth in 2017. His velocity remains high, however, and it’s not hard to imagine him going on a solid run in a way that could help a contender. He is owed $56 million over the next two seasons, however, and has a $22 million option that could vest for 2020, so negotiations for him could be tough. If the Tigers want talent back, they’ll have to eat salary.
Verlander got an ovation from a Detroit crowd last night which seemed to sense that, yes, it’s possible he pitched his last game for the Tigers. Given that he has 10/5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade, that decision is ultimately up to him. It’s not hard to imagine him accepting a trade to a contender, however.
We wait see.
The Dodgers beat the Twins last night thanks to a Cody Bellinger three-run homer. But Bellinger was not the only Dodgers rookie who had a notable game. A far more unconventional one is worth mentioning as well.
That rookie is reliever Edward Paredes, who made his big league debut last night. What makes him unconventional: he’s 30. Turns 31 in September, actually. Paredes pitched professionally for 12 years before making it to The Show. Most of that time was in the affiliated minors in the Mariners, Indians, Angels and Dodgers organizations. He spent time in the independent Atlantic League in 2013-15 as well.
Paredes did not do anything heroic last night. It was more of a right place/right time kind of appearance, retiring the side in order with a fly out, line out and a ground out and remaining the pitcher of record while Bellinger hit that three-run homer. That’s enough for a W, though. A W that Paredes waited a lot longer for than most pitchers who notch one in the bigs.