Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland will most certainly call it an end to the regular season now for Justin Verlander and save his former AL MVP for the playoffs, regardless of where he puts him in the postseason rotation.
Verlander pitched Monday night and his next start in Leyland’s regular rotation wouldn’t be until the regular season finale on Sunday against the Miami Marlins. Even if Verlander was scheduled to pitch earlier than that, there’s no reason to use him with the team ready to clinch the divisional title.
Once the Tigers clinch, Verlander needs some time off to get mentally and physically ready for the playoffs. He’s had a rough season compared to those he’s delivered in the past, but it looks like he’s working his way out of his hangups and needs time off to refresh himself.
Verlander has been through the playoffs in the past and knows what it takes to get those tough wins against the best teams in MLB. A 162-game schedule can be a grind on any pitcher. Verlander has mastered the regular season in the past, but obviously had problems pacing himself this year.
When he’s handed the ball in the playoffs, Verlander realizes it might be his last time on the mound in 2013 unless he and his teammates perform in championship style. It’s no secret that pitchers who struggle during the regular season can sometimes find their form again in the playoffs and pitch much better in October than they did from April through September.
That could very well apply to Verlander. The Tigers sure hope it does.
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