Tigers manager Jim Leyland was pretty firm in his stance Wednesday that ace Justin Verlander was not going to pitch in Game 5. He meant it, because Verlander threw a 57-pitch bullpen session -- as are customary between starts for major-leaguers in the rotation -- Thursday afternoon. There's no way Verlander would be asked to dial it up back up under any circumstances, so he's done for the ALDS. If the Tigers lose, he won't pitch again until 2012, as this is an elimination game.
Knowing what we know, this is pretty confusing.
|New York-Detroit ALDS|
What if starting pitcher Doug Fister melts down and is forced to leave after two innings? Max Scherzer will likely take over, but he's not the best pitcher in the AL. Verlander is.
The Tigers' season will be over if they lose Game 5. It seems like they'd be ready to do whatever it takes to avoid such a scenario. We're not talking about endangering a player's future here. We're talking about a pitcher who threw 57 meaningless pitches in the afternoon instead of being ready to throw a few meaningful pitches during Game 5 of the ALDS. No one is saying the Tigers should schedule Verlander to throw, say, the sixth and seventh innings. I'm simply saying they should have at least left open the option of him contributing around 25 pitches. The Yankees are leaving the option of CC Sabathia open. Friday night, the Phillies will have Cliff Lee in the bullpen. It's time to advance to the LCS.
We don't know what's going to happen in the game and the Tigers do have a good bullpen. But if they lose because of one or two bad innings from the pitching staff, Leyland is going to have plenty of questions to answer.
After the game, they call that second-guessing. So consider this a first guess. I just don't get it.
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