As reported in the comments here, and on Kurt’s blog, Jim Leyland has set his playoff rotation. It will be Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers, Nate Robertson, and Jeremy Bonderman.
I like that Rogers is set up to pitch twice in Comerica Park. I like Nate Robertson taking the first start on the road.
I’m not a big fan of Bonderman being the guy to pitch just once in the series. He’s been second only to Kenny Rogers in the postseason while Justin Verlander has struggled in his 2 starts. He has allowed 19 baserunners and 3 homers in 10 2/3 innings. He survived against the Yankees and the offense picked him up against the A’s. As for his success against the Cardinals lineup, over 29 at-bats they have an OPS of 911 against them.
This also makes it very likely that Verlander will pitch twice in this series. That’s fine if it is a matter of circumstance, like if your team was pushed to 7 games and you have to go with who is most rested. The Tigers had the luxury of avoiding that and chose not to.
Now as I’ve said before each series, I don’t think the rotation will matter a great deal because it is quite balanced. I just don’t understand why Leyland would put the struggling rookie in this situation. Perhaps he thinks that the Cardinals will be just so fatigued it won’t matter. Or perhaps the advance scouts – who seem to have done an excellent job in the postseason – have seen something that indicates that Verlander would have the most success.
Any rotation would cause second guessing. And to a large extent Jim Leyland has earned the benefit of the doubt. Starting with Verlander just seems like a strange choice to this blogger.
UPDATE: The Cardinals named their rotation. It will be Anthony Reyes-Jeff Weaver-Chris Carpenter-Jeff Suppan