World Series Rotation

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

15 Comments

  1. matt

    October 20, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    Well, here is a tired old cliche, but I think Verlander is due for a power performance. Didn’t he smoke the cards earlier this year?

  2. Kurt

    October 20, 2006 at 4:05 pm

    Agree Bilfer, I believe my ideal rotation, like the one you posted a few days back, was Rogers-Bonderman-Robertson-Verlander. Half of that is that I’d rather Verlander only have one last start for the year due to his innings, and the other half is he’s pitched well but not phenomenal in the playoffs. The order of the other three didn’t seem like a real big deal. It’s not like the Tigers have *an* ace, they have about four to choose from.

  3. JL in NYC

    October 20, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    Man, am I the only one prematurely burned out on all the talk about the ratings for this series? What does this accomplish accept bum everyone out? Who cares about the ratings anyway?

  4. David V

    October 20, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    I’m sticking with my Verlander- Rogers-Bonderman-Robertson rotation from yesterday. I also think that Robertson should be the guy with one start not Bonderman. That said, I really, in my heart believe it doesn’t matter who pitches when, or which one bats where, I love my Tigers and believe they are on the verge of bringing us a World Series Championship…..A PERFECT END TO AN UNBELIEVABLE STORY!!!! Go get em’ , bless you boys , My Tiger is everyone of em’ including Leyland, and of course the coaches (who’s contribution is enormously overlooked )!!!!!

  5. Bobber

    October 20, 2006 at 6:41 pm

    With 4 ER in 6 IP, 5 K and 3 BB, Verlander didn’t exactly smoke the Cards in June, but he won. The Tigers’ scoring of 10 runs probably helped.

    I think Leyland manages his staff in a more big-picture way. No matter what happens, there will be a game 4 and the chances of the Tigers getting there 0-3 are nearly zero, however no matter if they’re 3-0, 0-3 or anything in between, having Bonderman at that pass is a good move to me.

    In any case, it’s a problem I’m sure LaRussa wouldn’t mind having.

  6. Bob S.

    October 20, 2006 at 7:12 pm

    I think it might have something to do with 1)matchups,and 2)pitching in the friendly confines of Comerica.

  7. Greg

    October 20, 2006 at 7:20 pm

    Shouldn’t Lou Whitaker be included with anything involving Alan Trammell during the Series?

  8. Sean

    October 20, 2006 at 9:29 pm

    I would think the decision to go with Verlander game one is to strike a powerful cord with the Cardinals, and make sure his bullpen is at is most ready if he needs help. Plus, if there is a game seven, doesn’t Bonderman become the long relief guy if the starter gets hit? I would rather have him coming out of the bullpen than Verlander.

  9. Cameron in Singapore

    October 20, 2006 at 11:27 pm

    Very suprising. I certainly didn’t expect Bonderman to wait until Game 4 to pitch.

  10. Kyle J

    October 21, 2006 at 12:07 am

    Interesting that LaRussa is waiting until games 3 and 4 to pitch Carpenter and Suppan. That means they’d both have to pitch on short rest to start them both twice (games 6 and 7). He probably figures it’s better to give them their normal rest now and pitch them on short rest later, rather than vice versa.

    Either way, it’s to our advantage. Isn’t there pretty good evidence that pitchers’ performance suffers when going on short rest in the postseason?

    On the other hand, it puts a bit of pressure on the Tigers to get those first two. Not a ton of pressure, but I’m sure the Cards will be happy with a split.

  11. Mark

    October 21, 2006 at 2:09 am

    Vote now: Does Yadier Molina wax his eyebrows??

    http://www.greatsportsnews.com.....a_eyebrows

  12. PHT in HK

    October 21, 2006 at 2:30 am

    Good analysis by Sean to think through 7 games up front. I am have a hard time thinking past game 1.

  13. Bob S.

    October 21, 2006 at 9:54 am

    Most pitcher’s performance suffers with short rest.Which is why Mickey Lolich in 1968 is quite possibly the most exceptional pitching performance in World Series history.

  14. Chris

    October 21, 2006 at 1:10 pm

    Starting Verlander in game 1 is a typical Leland move. He does this to give guys a charge. Robertson struggled against the Yankees, and then Leland started him in game 1 against the As. I think he’s doing the same thing with Verlander. Justin hasn’t had a great performance in the playoffs yet, and with this move Leland says “I believe in you.”

    It may work, it may not – but Leland doesn’t ever seem to let his guys think they might fail. He’s not afraid to bat Inge 3rd early in the season, play Gomez at 3rd, or let Andrew Miller think he’s considering putting him on the roster (I haven’t seen the roster yet, is he on it?). Or letting Ledezma pitch in the 8th inning of a tight playoff game. I think treating everybody like a professional that he expects to produce has been no small part of the turnaround this year.

    The moves don’t always make sense in a traditional sense, but maybe that’s why the Tigers have succeeded this year. Instead of managing like he’s afraid to lose, Leland manages like he expects to win.

  15. Chris

    October 21, 2006 at 1:11 pm

    I meant Gomez at DH against the A’s in the comment above.