MLB Playoffs: Will Jim Leyland Use Verlander in Game 5?

The Detroit Tigers will turn to Doug Fister in game five who they obtained in a trade deadline deal from the Seattle Mariners. Fister was absolute gold going down the stretch going 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA and a Roy Halladay-like 57-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The 6-foot-8 righty who had retired 11 in a row at one point against the deep Yankee lineup in his first postseason appearance Saturday night eventually faltered allowing six runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The New York Yankees for their part will turn to rookie Ivan Nova (16-4, 3.70 ERA) who pitched well in his first postseason outing in the rain-delayed game one. Nova tossed 6 1/3 innings giving up just two runs and hasn’t lost a decision in last 17 starts dating back to June 3rd.

For the Yankees it’s clearly all hands on deck and there’s no telling how early you would see Mariano Rivera in a close game. Rivera will definitely been scene in the 8th inning if needed and possibly at some point in the 7th if the circumstances of preventing a rally were warranted. CC Sabathia has pitched plenty on short rest in the playoffs and could certainly be counted for a few pitches if needed, but what about Detroit’s ace Justin Verlander?

Verlander has never made a major league relief appearance, but it’s hard to believe that if the situation arose, when push came to shove veteran manager Leyland won’t at least be tempted to go to him. In fact, if the Tigers went down in a close game and Verlander didn’t have the opportunity to hold a tie or a lead for a few batters at some point during the game, even if it was just one batter in a crucial spot, many in Detroit would consider in a crime.

After Verlander threw 120 pitches over eight innings on Monday, Leyland was asked if the 24-game winner was done for the 2011 ALDS.

“I would say so, yes,” he said.

“I wouldn’t do anything foolish,” Leyland said Monday night. “I try not to do anything foolish with any of my pitchers, let alone an arm like that.”

Turning to Verlander, his response was, “I want to [be available], but he’s the manager and if he says I’m not gonna go, then he’s the manager. I’ll be there. I’ll definitely be there.”

The 66-year old Leyland who has a Worlds Series Championship managing the Florida Marlins in 1997 and an AL Pennant with the Tigers in 2006 isn’t getting any younger and this may be his last shot to add a second title to his belt. Despite what he says, if Verlander feels ok and the situation warrants, Leyland will let Verlander warmed up and see how he feels. If Verlander looks Leyland in the eyes and says he can go, there’s no way Leyland has the result of the 2011 ALDS decided without his best pitcher having at least say in the outcome of a deciding game 5.

The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at TheXLog.com. You may email Mike @ michael.cardano@rotoexperts.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.


Popular Video