The Tigers are sticking with what worked in the ALDS in terms of their rotation. Nate Robertson will pitch game 1 and he’ll be followed by Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers, and Jeremy Bonderman. This will be ripe with second guessing.
First of all, Robertson had the least success against the Yankees, and he’s had the least success against the A’s this season.
Second, everyone by now is aware that Kenny Rogers has proven to be nearly invincible pitching in Oakland.
Third, the A’s have hit lefties better this season with a 790 OPS against southpaws as opposed to a 740 OPS against righties.
Despite all that, I don’t think it will make that much of a difference. As I said prior to the Yankees series, the Tigers have 4 very good pitchers that are all pretty similar. That right there negates some of the impact of the ordering.
As for Kenny Rogers success in the Coliseum, it is true that he has a 26-4 record with a 3.46 ERA. His other Coliseum stats are K/9 – 5.0, BB/9 – 3.4, HR/9 – .88, and K/BB – 1.47. The thing is, Kenny Rogers is pretty good in Comerica Park also. There he posts a 3.32 ERA, K/9 – 4.6, BB/9 – 2.7, HR/9 – .69, and K/BB – 1.72. In fact there’s really no drop off.
As for Leyland’s reasoning, I can only speculate. Maybe he wanted to show confidence in Robertson, or avoid a long lay off for him. Maybe he didn’t want to saddle Verlander with the pressure of a game 1 assignment, or he wanted to still try and limit his workload. Maybe he wanted
Jeremy Bonderman Kenny Rogers to be pitching in a potential game 7.
Now if I were picking a rotation (knowing that Bonderman can’t go in either game 1 or 2) it would be Verlander-Rogers-Bonderman-Robertson. But in the end, I don’t really see it being a big deal.