Thursday, September 22, 2011

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland starting Justin Verlander on short rest in ALDS wouldn't only be ridiculous, but irresponsible

I think uproar about Tiger manager Jim Leyland's decision to not pitch Justin Verlander on short rest in the American League Division Series is ridiculous.
You have to consider Verlander, who will make his final start of the regular season Saturday, will likely throw 250 innings or more this season (he is at 244 now). The last American League pitcher to do that was Roy Halladay in 2003 for Toronto. The next two seasons, Halladay was limited to 19 and 21 starts because of shoulder problems. He was 8-8 with a 4.20 ERA in 2004 at roughly the same age period Verlander now. No other American League pitcher - more difficult than the National League because of the DH - has thrown 250 innings since 1998.
If the Tigers advance to the World Series, there is a good chance Verlander will throw at least 40 innings in the postseason. That he will be over 290 for the year (more than 300 counting spring training). Throwing him out of his routine that early in the postseason would not only be ridiculous, but irresponsible.
Verlander is owed $20 million per season for each of the next three years. There is also the investment to consider - protecting it.
The worst argument for this comes from oldtimers about Mickey Lolich in the 1968 World Series when they point out he won Game 7 on two days rest.
Lolich threw only 220 innings that season. There was no DH. Only one postseason series. The mound was five inches higher than it is now. Totally different cirucmstances and time. Doesn't equate.
And it would be different if it is the World Series. Then pitch Verlander, maybe, on shorter rest. But doing so in the opening round is a recipe for disaster.



Anonymous Michael C said...

Verlander is a horse. He leads the league in innings pitched and pitches thrown every year and he's never had any serious injury problems.

I think he could handle pitching on 3 days rest without any problems as long as the Tigers only needed him to throw 100-110 pitches in the opening game. If he had to go his usual 120 then I'd go with the 4 days rest.

Sabathia does it every year around this time without any problems, and he's averaged 240 innings over the past 5 years. Verlander is the kind of rare talent that can handle a heavy workload like that as well.

2:45 AM 
Blogger Core Contrarian said...

Forgetting how many innings he has thrown (and I think Verlander is leading MLB in pitches thrown and is 400 higher than the next guy, Haren), the statistics on pitchers throwing on short rest show that it is almost always a bad idea and doing that has the magical ability to turn an outstanding pitcher into a fair or a poor one.

From time to time, someone does it successfully (I remember Beckett doing it in the 2000 World Series) but I think that is relatively rare.

7:44 AM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Lets hope it doesn't come to this decision being necessary.

Lets hope we can get out of the gate with wins from Vrlander and Fister to give Scherzer some comfort. It may actually be better to not have home field advantage so the 3rd spot pitcher can throw at home in supportive evironment - perhaps two road wins from V & F is not such a rediculous prospect?

Tigers should have the short series advantage regardless if home or away. I would prefer those middle two games at home.

I think throwing your 3rd pitcher (Scherzer) on the road is the bigger concern. You can't throw verlander on game three even with the travel day.

Hot Tigers bats could solve a lot of these worries for us. But I wouldnt bet the farm on that ... not yet.

12:41 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Sorry Book, my comment above basically restated what your earlier post today said. I didn't see it until later.

Slow down, Pat, I can't keep up!

12:45 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Don't disparage us oldtimers. Verlander has the same consistently stubborn delivery and iron arm that Lolich had. This isn't some Scherzer situation, where the guy's at risk of blowing his arm out because of fatigue and bad mechanics. Verlander can be trusted to monitor himself, and Leyland can monitor him too.

I'd be tempted to shorten the rotation with Verlander, just because he's that special and unique a player. Like you, I might not do it in the first round, but as the stakes go up, I would consider it.

5:28 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Michael C,
It's not about the workload, it's about throwing him off routine after such a workload.

12:59 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Core Contratrian,
Couldn't agree more. And what guarantee is there Verlander would pitch as well as usual on shorter rest? None. Lose-lose situation. And Tigers would still have to win Game 5.

1:00 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
I think that will be the big question for the Tigers in postseason - can they keep hitting like they did last six weeks of regular season.

1:01 PM 

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