October 24th, 2012
Though there was some speculation that Andy Dirks would get the start in right field, Jim Leyland has expressed at other points this postseason that he preferred the right-handed bat against most lefties, that he had been starting Dirks out of a lack of other righty bats. Thus, about seven weeks after Garcia got the call to the big leagues, he’ll be starting Game 1 of the World Series.
The other call was Alex Avila behind the plate over Gerald Laird. It’ll be Avila’s first start against a lefty starter since Sept. 1, when he was in the lineup against Francisco Liriano. He went 0-for-3 in that game.
It’s worth noting As manager Jim Leyland noted, though, Avila has caught all three of Justin Verlander’s starts this postseason. It’s not that Laird can’t catch Verlander, obviously. He’s done it many times this season. But you have to figure this assignment is about not messing with a good thing.
“We just felt like the combination of Avila and Verlander [worked],” Leyland said.
Leyland also noted that with lefties starting the first two games of this series, and CC Sabathia having started Game 4 of the ALCS, Avila would go 10 days between starts if he didn’t play until the Giants trotted a right-handed starter.
- Austin Jackson, CF
- Omar Infante, 2B (3-for-20, 4 K’s off Zito)
- Miguel Cabrera, 3B (2-for-8 off Zito)
- Prince Fielder, 1B (3-for-18, HR, 5 RBIs off Zito)
- Delmon Young, LF
- Jhonny Peralta, SS (3-for-14, HR, 2 RBIs off Zito)
- Avisail Garcia, RF
- Alex Avila, C
- Justin Verlander, P
- Angel Pagan, CF (2-for-5, 3B off Verlander)
- Marco Scutaro, 2B (5-for-25, 2B, 3B, 9 K’s off Verlander)
- Pablo Sandoval, 3B
- Buster Posey, C
- Hunter Pence, RF
- Brandon Belt, 1B
- Gregor Blanco, LF (0-for-3, 2 K’s off Verlander)
- Brandon Crawford, SS
- Barry Zito, P
Max Scherzer spent most of the summer outpitching Justin Verlander atop the Tigers rotation. Max Scherzer is spending the postseason as a Game 4 starter, the only Tigers starter guaranteed only one start in the best-of-seven series.
He filled the role in the best-of-5 AL Division Series against Oakland, and the best-of-7 ALCS against the Yankees. He’ll do the same against the Giants.
Scherzer has one earned run and 18 strikeouts over 11 innings this postseason. It’s the type of pitching most teams would want to get as often as possible in a seven-game series. The Tigers are concerned about the flip side, not getting it at all. With three other starters pitching as well as they have all season, it’s a luxury they can afford to take.
“Some people have asked about should he pitch in the fourth game,” Leyland said Monday, “but because of his little bit of setbacks recently, not too recently, but with the celebration and prior to that with a little tired arm, we decided this was the best way to go.”
It all goes back to the shoulder. No matter what the results for Scherzer, and they’ve been increasingly positive since his return at the end of the regular season, the Tigers aren’t going to take a chance with it.
On one hand, team officials downplay the injury. When shoulder soreness scratched him from one start after two innings and erased his assignment from another with a week to go in the regular season, he was diagnosed with deltoid soreness, not tendinitis.
“I know everybody keeps talking about that [as a shoulder injury], but it was definitely muscular,” team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said last week. “They identified it quickly, so it was really more a matter of making sure he got it where it was rested again.
“Like [doctors] said, it’s just like a person that’s tired. But I was concerned as far as getting it up and going again.”
Even so, shoulder fatigue is enough for the Tigers to use caution. It’s not simply the injury itself, but the chance that trying to push too much to pitch through it could lead to something else.