Peeking Ahead: Tigers Must Adjust Pitching Rotation


Man, I’m stressed.  Anyone else stressed out right now?  A pennant race is what we all hope for, but I am riding a wave of emotions: anxiety, frustration, and sometimes, relief.  At times like these I remind myself that it’s better than being a Cubs fan!

2012 can’t seem to make up its mind whether it’s going to be like 2007 or 2011.  In all three of these seasons, the Tigers entered August in a tight race for the division title.  In 2007, the Tigers had a one game lead at the beginning of August.  They still held a one game lead on August 14, but fell to 5.5 games back by the end of August.  In 2011, the Tigers held a two game lead to begin August.  By August 14, the lead had increased to 2.5 games.  The lead was then stretched to 5.5 games by the end of August.

The similarities here are obvious.  Both years the Tigers had a team that was expected to win the division.  In one year they tripped in August and were 5.5 games back heading to September.  In the other year, they stepped on the gas in August and went into September up 5.5 games.  The 2012 Tigers started August 2.5 games back, and now find themselves two games out.  Where will they be September 1?

In a race like this, the Tigers brass must consider exploiting every possible advantage.  One such advantage is ace Justin Verlander.  With seven games remaining versus the Chicago White Sox, Verlander is currently on pace to pitch the day after both series finish.  No doubt Leyland & Co. have already noticed this unfortunate timing, and have also realized how simple the solution.

Verlander must be moved up one day.  To accomplish that, another pitcher’s start must be skipped without forcing anyone to pitch on less than regular rest.  Fortunately, there are two off days upcoming that will give the Tigers the perfect opportunity.  Anibal Sanchez is currently the clear choice to have a start skipped.  It is dangerous, because you don’t want to throw a guy off his rhythm, but it is also necessary.  Sanchez is on pace to start the series finale against Baltimore on August 19.  However, with the off day on August 16, the Tigers could have Doug Fister start that game on full rest.  Sanchez could then rejoin the rotation on August 24 against the Angels.  Provided there are no weather or injury complications, Verlander would then be on pace to pitch the series finale against the White Sox on September 2, and the series finale in Chicago on September 13.

Another bonus to this adjustment is how the pitching would be set up for the final series of the year against Kansas City.  Doug Fister and Max Scherzer, the best two starters after Verlander, would be set up to pitch the last two games of the year.  Furthermore, if the Tigers make the postseason, Verlander would be on full rest to pitch a one-game playoff, a wild card game, or game one of a division series.  Should the Tigers find themselves in a must win situation on the last day of the regular season, Verlander could pitch on three days rest, at the expense of Scherzer.

Expect an announcement of a pitching rotation adjustment to come soon.  I mean, if an armchair manager like myself can notice this, the Tigers must be well ahead of me.