Mid Week Thoughts

Briefly covering some topics and links as I watch game 6 of the NLCS…

The Rotation

One of the benefits of all the off time is that the rotation can be set however Jim Leyland desires. What we’ve learned is that Jim Leyland’s desires are often different than our own. But if it were up to me, I’d go with one of following 2 rotations:

Rogers-Bonderman-Robertson-Verlander: Kenny Rogers has been pitching like a man possessed and needs to be at the front of the rotation. In the interest of alternating arms, I went with Bonderman next. He’s pitched better than Justin Verlander in the postseason. Also, I think the Tigers would like to limit Verlander’s starts just to protect his arm. Robertson has started the first road game of each series so far, and it would seem to work in this situation also.

Bonderman-Rogers-Robertson-Verlander
: This is almost identical with just the first 2 spots flipped. Everybody will be on extended rest, but Bonderman would be closest to his regular routine. Also, if the series were to last 6 games both of Kenny Rogers starts would come at Comerica Park. This isn’t a huge concern because Rogers has an ERA of 3.05 at Shea Stadium. But all of those starts came in 1999 so they are terribly relevant. If it means going to St. Louis, none of the starters have pitched in the new stadium so it is a wash.

As I’ve said before though, I don’t think the rotation makes a significant difference with this team. They are balanced and all very good so there aren’t clear advantages in who starts when and where. The other issue is that the Tigers don’t need to set their entire rotation. They can wait and see what happens in the first 2 games before making their decision on the next 2.

The layoff

There is a justifiable concern that the layoff will hurt a team that is red hot. Last year the 2005 White Sox – who have been compared to the Tigers many times – won the ALCS on October 16th and didn’t start the World Series until October 22nd. The White Sox swept the Astros.

!n 1996 the Yankees has a full week off while waiting for the Braves who’s series went to 7 games versus the Yankees 5. New York won that series 4 games to 2.

Finally in 1995, the Braves swept the NLCS while the Indians battled the Mariners for 6 games. The Braves had a week off and won the World Series in 6 games.

So in the 3 instances since the Wild Card where one league Champion has a week off and the other doesn’t, the rested team has prevailed. I think the bigger issue for the Tigers (and their eventual opponent) is the length of the NLCS series, not the length of the layoff.

Links

26 Comments

  1. Andy in NY

    October 19, 2006 at 12:16 am

    One thing to quibble with: In that ’96 Yanks v. Braves series that ended 4-2, the Yanks lost the first two games at home, then improbably won the next 4 straight. So, you could argue that the layoff hurt them early in that series. But, in general I think Bilfer’s point is a good one, the layoff doesn’t mean much, the better team will probably come out on top.

  2. Sean Carroll

    October 19, 2006 at 2:17 am

    I don’t think you would want Nate Robertson slated for Games 3 and 7 unless you were very optimistic about a fairly quick win for the Tigers. Might I suggest Verlander or Robertson- Rogers-Bonderman-Robertson or Verlander instead? The Tigers need Rogers and Bonderman available for Games 6 and 7.

  3. david V

    October 19, 2006 at 9:06 am

    Let’s TRY to pick up 2 quick ones @ home. With the travel days you could have Verlander-Rogers-@ home then Bonderman-Robertson -Verlander away and Rogers-Bonderman back home! Seems like a pretty decent WS rotation to me!!!

  4. david V

    October 19, 2006 at 9:11 am

    Oops, I meant Verlander OR Bonderman in game 7

  5. Kyle J

    October 19, 2006 at 9:14 am

    I don’t see a problem with Robertson pitching game 7. He’s showed he’s a gamer. At the end of the day, three guys will start two games in a 7-game series.

    And I like Verlander pitching game 4 for two reasons:

    1) Might as well save his arm, given that our four starters have performed at roughly the same level this year.

    2) I think he’d be the most effective of the four out of the bullpen for game 7 if needed. Bonderman often struggles early in games. Rogers is too much of a finesse pitcher. Robertson has a tendency to pitch himself into (and out of) jams; might be tougher to pitch out of them in a relief setting. Leyland can put Verlander in, tell him to throw strikes, and trust/hope that his stuff will be good enough.

  6. david V

    October 19, 2006 at 9:17 am

    OK I’ve lost it totally, I have Verlander in game 5 so I guess it would have to be Bondy in game 7.

  7. david V

    October 19, 2006 at 11:13 am

    Well Bilfer you had it. It’s Rogers- Bonderman to start the series. Posted on the Tigers website @ 11:10 am Thurs. 10/19

  8. Kurt

    October 19, 2006 at 11:28 am

    Robertson and Verlander are 3 and 4 on the site. Good catch, david v!

  9. jim-mt

    October 19, 2006 at 12:16 pm

    Whenever he pitches, it would probably be better if Bonderman didn’t shake off Pudge so much in the early part of the game.

    I’m going to game 2 all the way from Montana!

  10. Chris Y.

    October 19, 2006 at 1:00 pm

    Tough call on Miller. They say he’s been working well in the intructional league and that might be the kicker for all this speculation. I would assume he takes Miner’s spot if they feel they need that extra lefty (in the case of the Mets). I could see it from the perspective of you have an opponent that hates facing lefties and you only need a couple long relievers (Miner-Grilli or Miller-Grilli).

    I would assume the only scenario you’d use him in would be if you’re down a couple runs and need relief early. Then you can use him with minimal stress. Still, a tough call.

  11. Sam

    October 19, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    I like Miller.

    Obviously no one has confidence in Miner in the fact that he hasn’t even warmed up in the postseason, so you might as well add an arm you could use.

    -Sam

  12. cameramano

    October 19, 2006 at 2:02 pm

    I’m convinced Robertson was the sacrificial lamb against the Yankees, with Leyland knowing the Tigers’ pitching was deeper.

    I’d pitch Robertson in game 4. However, being a national league manager, Leyland may pitch the two weakest hitters (Robertson/Bonderman) in a DH setting. Then again, by pitching the “weaker” pitchers (again Robertson/Bondo IMHO) in a national league park, Leyland would have to worry less about pulling them in the 6th inning.

  13. david V

    October 19, 2006 at 2:13 pm

    Chris, don’t forget Ledezma as the #1 lefty in long relief.

  14. johnw

    October 19, 2006 at 2:24 pm

    Watching the Mets and Cardinals bludgeon each other to death, it’s had to see the Tigers’ rotation mattering much. With the inconsistent performances of Glavine and Carpenter, the Tigers will have the better starter for every game no matter what they do. Of course, my inner Tiger Fan will be worrying every step of the way…

    Here’s hoping for an 18-17 extra-inning Game 7 in the NLCS. Burn out those pitching arms, fellas!

  15. J

    October 19, 2006 at 3:26 pm

    The site is speculation if you read it closely. The rotation still has not been announced officially.

  16. Matt in Toledo

    October 19, 2006 at 3:38 pm

    Considering the scouting report on the Tigers’ website for Kenny Rogers said he pitched both Game 4s, I’m not putting a whole lot of faith in their research.

  17. Coach Jim

    October 19, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    Kyle J makes a great point about Verlander being best suited for a relief role. Fresh power pitching kills rallies.

    Sam, I do believe Miner was warming up with Ledezma in the 8th inning of game 4 against the A’s (I really hate the apostrophe for plurals).

    If *I* were manager, I would keep the rotation exactly as it is now. Leyland had a habit of sticking with his players all year (like Jones and Monroe when things were going poorly). This was done to prove the manager’s confidence. I see no reason to change that now. It also puts Kenny Rogers in games 3 and 7. Statistically through the regular season, these guys were all so close you can’t say one is better than the other, so don’t make them feel that way by shuffling the rotation.

  18. Chris Y.

    October 19, 2006 at 4:35 pm

    Not dismissing Ledezma in the least. His role is cemented and he’s performed well. Just saying that, if all things are as is being reported, it may make sense to replace Miner with Miller if we face the Mets. That of course depends on Miller’s recent performance, but right now Miner is essentially a non-factor unless a starter goes down. And remember, Miner isn’t exactly selfish with his BBI either.

  19. Greg

    October 19, 2006 at 5:54 pm

    Does anyone know for sure if Casey is able to play?

    I would have no problem with Miller over Miner. Miller is more valuable when you need a strikeout early one. And they already have long relief guys in Ledezma and Grilli (plus whichever starter only gets one start).

    Clevlen is in Phoenix (as am I) so this is probably out, but I want him as a possible pinch-runner instead of Neifi or Santiago. Of course I said before that I wanted him instead of Alexis Gomez, and that was obviously wrong.

  20. Bryan

    October 19, 2006 at 6:19 pm

    With Leyland’s thought process, he may start Grillie because of his batting average.

  21. Sean Carroll

    October 19, 2006 at 9:12 pm

    I almost agree with Coach Jim that leaving the rotation as it has been would be fine – except that I think opening the ALCS and ALDS away played a part in setting it (or perhaps just leaving it) that way. That is, Leyland knew that it would be hard to come out of New York with even one win, and wanted the best stoppers in place for the home games.

    I almost agree with johnw that the rotation hardly matters, with the Tigers having the upper hand in pitching no matter what. But it does matter, of course, if only because one of the starters will start just one game.

    I can’t imagine a situation where it would make sense to bring on Verlander in relief in Game 7, unless the starter was injured early. Don’t the Tigers have enough righty flame-throwers in the bullpen already?

    For me, the fun in trying to play Jim Leyland here is seeing if I can think like a manager rather than a fan. For instance, as a fan, I can imagine where starting Rogers in Game 1 would be an “honor” and a “reward” that might “inspire” him. As a manager, though, I would hate to not have him available for Game 6 (especially) or 7. In part because – and here I might be thinking too much like a fan again – of how he performed in the 2 previous “homecoming” games.

    Does anyone think that Leyland would pitch leftys two games in a row? I’ve gathered that this is highly unlikely, but wouldn’t it be just like him to throw such a curve? In that case, I could see Robertson and Rogers for Games 1 and 2.

    I haven’t got a clue about how the no-DH thing might affect the rotation, maybe even use of the bullpen, and wouldn’t mind hearing some thoughts on this from someone who does.

    I’d prefer (slightly) to see the Tigers play and beat the Mets, for what it’s worth.

  22. Kyle J

    October 19, 2006 at 9:58 pm

    You use Verlander in game 7 if the starter’s getting beat up early. If they’re down 5-0, it might make not much difference (but you’d pull out all the stops anyway). If they’re down, say, 4-2 in the 3rd and it’s clear the starter doesn’t have it, wouldn’t you rather bring a fresh Verlander in instead of Ledezma or Grilli? You use him for three innings or so and then go to Rodney/Zumaya/Jones.

  23. Kyle J

    October 19, 2006 at 9:59 pm

    Supposed to start raining hard in NY at about 11:00. Wouldn’t mind seeing the Cardinals and Mets have to wait around and play the game past midnight.

  24. Nate A

    October 20, 2006 at 12:08 am

    Here’s hoping Miller is only in town to pitch batting practice. Since the Mets lost, it looks like his inclusion in the WS roster is even less likely. Suits me just fine. He might be a good prospect and be great someday, but for now we’ve only seen how many batters he can walk.

    I prefer Bondo-Rogers-Verlander-Robertson for a rotation, but the Bondo-Rogers-Robertson-Verlander isnt terrible either. I’d really like to keep Rogers pitching at home, tho I admit keeping Bonderman at home also means his 0 for 19(12 strikeouts) history at the plate doesn’t come into play. None of the others are any better, but at least they’ve got a better contact rate. Still, I don’t think that aspect of these games will factor in that much.

  25. Sean Carroll

    October 20, 2006 at 12:39 am

    Yes, Kyle J, I suppose I might use Verlander in long relief if the starter was getting hammered badly in the first couple innings, say if the Tigers were down 7 runs right away. But I could just as well use Ledezma here.

    In your scenario of Tigers down 4-2 in the 3rd inning of Game 7, starter looking really, really bad, I’ll assume the other team is still at bat and threatening. In this situation, I would not pull the starter no matter who it was unless they had a complete meltdown, walking 3 consecutive batters, giving up 3 home runs in a row, something like that. In this case a situational reliever like Walker or Grilli is called to get the Tigers out of the inning, and after that, well… it depends what the Tigers do at the plate in the bottom half. If the Tigers make it a game again, I can see putting Verlander in as the “do over” starter, sure, and then I’d want him in there through the 8th inning if he was getting it done.

    So it’s the Cardinals. They worry me more than the Mets would have, the way they snuck off with the NLCS. I would have preferred the Tiges beating yet another New York team with big bats, questionable pitching, and a tendency to choke. Fortunately, I don’t think it matters to the Tigers.

  26. Thomas

    October 20, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    I can see them using Rogers in 2 and 6. He has been just lights out at home, so moving him out would be wierd. He pitches like that, and we have a easy 2, if it goes at least 6. Verlander would be a good game 4. Rookie, no real experence, and looked a little shakey in his last start. Then your choice to start in what town. Bonderman or Robertson. Robertson starts the series, like normal, and Bonderman in St. Louis? Becuase if it goes 7, Bonderman has been known to go lights out at home. Ask the Yankees. I like a Robertson-Rogers-Bonderman-Verlander lineup.