A day after Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly bumped up Clayton Kershaw in the postseason rotation to pitch a big Game 4 on three days' rest, Detroit Tigers skipper Jim Leyland isn't doing the same with his Cy Young candidate.
He's opting, instead, for a half-measure. Leyland said he might use Max Scherzer out of the bullpen in Tuesday's game, which the Tigers have to win to stave off elimination. Scherzer — 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA in the regular season and the winner of Game 1 — was scheduled to start Game 5. But if the Tigers don't win Tuesday, that doesn't matter.
Detroit is sticking with scheduled starter Doug Fister (14-9, 3.67 ERA). Scherzer would be in amounts to a set-up role for Detroit. Here's more from MLive.com's Chris Iott:
"I might use Max," Leyland said. "But the stars would have to line up just right for that to happen. We'd have to be ahead, maybe pitch the seventh and eighth inning or something if he feels like he's 100 percent. Then you'd have Verlander for Game 5 if necessary.
Doug Fister will start for the Tigers against right-hander Dan Straily. Fister is 5-5 with a 3.17 ERA in 12 career starts vs. the A's, but he was roughed up the only time he faced them this season. Fister allowed seven runs on 13 hits in five innings pitched Aug. 28 in a 14-4 loss to the A's.
Having Verlander available for a Game 5 is the type of luxury most managers don't have, so Leyland has a little room to shuffle. But he's also opening himself up for an offseason's worth of second-guessing if Fister gets blistered, the A's win and Scherzer doesn't factor in at all.
If Scherzer is OK enough to come out of the bullpen, then why not start him, see what happens and use Fister in relief if needed? Would you rather have the AL Cy Young favorite on the mound in a do-or-die game or your fourth starter?
Of course, Tigers relief pitchers had the seventh-worst ERA in the regular season, so Scherzering up the bullpen makes sense too. That strategy, however, depends on the sluggish Tigers offense waking up and making a Cy Young-caliber reliever important.