The time is now for Leyland to pitch his best

Justin Verlander Detroit Tigers

Tigers ace Justin Verlander is one of the three starting pitchers who Denny McLain trusts in the post-season.

Now that Magglio Ordonez is gone for the entire series, now what? Delmon Young is also banged up. The Tigers sure could use Brendan Boesch, but he’s gone too. Neither Mags or Boesch will play again this season.

The Detroit Tigers were a “dead lock” to win the World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies out of the way, but now that’s not certain. It’s now time for the real pitchers to step it up. The hitters have carried the pitching staff since the All-Star Break, and it’s time for guys to do the exception rather than the normal. We are no longer playing Cleveland, Kansas City, Chicago and Minnesota, we are playing competitive winners. The pitching staff must step it up.

As a former player, I can tell you that there’s nothing more fun than pitching and playing in the post-season. There is nothing more exhilarating than pitching in a 1-0 game, a 2-1 game or a shutout on the big stage.

The adrenalin and emotion are almost out of control just warming up, then during the first inning or two, the excitement is overwhelming and startling. Don’t let anyone tell you that this is just another game, the drama is sky high for the players, the umpires, as well as the fans.

Do I agree with Rick Porcello getting a start? Of course not. Nor do I agree with Brandon Inge playing at any time either. I just don’t understand how .200 hitters are assets at a time like this. The rotation should be Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and no one else.

Folks this is the Big Time, “The Big Shew” as Ed Sullivan used to say (I know, who the hell is Ed Sullivan? Google him).

Verlander has an $80 million dollar deal, and that means it’s his job to lead and make it happen in the post-season. Did I really say $80 million? Oh my!

The fans deserve to see the best that we have each game and if Leyland doesn’t throw his top three out there then he’s giving his team a 50/50 chance of winning. And keep one other thing in mind – no one is asking those three guys to pitch nine innings! Now I ask, how difficult can it be to just pitch 6-7 innings? After they’ve done that they can hand it off to one of the guys in the bullpen to wrap it up.

How can any of those starting pitchers be tired? The goal and mission is to pitch your best pitchers as often as you can in a short series. Verlander should pitch three during this most important series of the year. With Verlander pitching Game One against Texas, then game Four on three days rest on Wednesday, if he’s left to 90 pitches per game: how does anything bad happen? If necessary, Verlander can return to pitch Game Seven, again with three days rest.

Games Two, Three, and Six can be handled by Scherzer and Fister. No need for Porcello unless the Tigers get behind in a serious way, then you can use him to rest the others.

There’s a saying around the world of baseball pitchers: “Only pitch the winners when it counts” – and now it really counts for our Tigers!

Leyland has plenty of pitching in the bullpen to keep it all under control, but he has to manage to win, not control and lose close games.

Put your aces out there Skipper, nothing less!